The Business Growth Programme (BGP2) has been hailed as a major success, with nearly £4.5 million in grants awarded to companies across the Marches area of the UK. This funding has led to the creation of almost 500 new jobs and the establishment of six new businesses, but the programme is coming to an end in just a few weeks' time. The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership is now urging businesses to act quickly to apply for grants, with the final deadline being March 22.

BGP2, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is designed to help small, medium-sized and start-up businesses grow, and start-ups can apply for grants of up to £10,000, while existing businesses can apply for up to £1 million. Companies in the Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin area are eligible to apply.

Rachel Laver, the chief executive of Marches LEP, praised the success of the programme and urged companies to take advantage of it before the deadline. The Marches Growth Hub, which promotes the scheme, has already supported a wide range of businesses to achieve their growth ambitions, including Joanna De Rycke's Iron & Fire coffee roasters, who received £50,000, and Emma Finch's Hector Finch, which received £30,000 to expand into new premises.

Emma said that the funding allowed the company to bring manufacturing processes in-house and create eight new jobs, adding that the experience had been "extremely positive" for them. The Business Growth Programme is designed to stimulate innovation, strengthen supply chains and help businesses grow, and businesses interested in applying for a grant should act quickly, as grant funding is limited and subject to availability for companies that meet the eligibility criteria.