A BODY set up to support small and medium sized enterprises in Dorset has handed over £1.5million to hundreds of businesses.

Dorset Growth Hub has another £490,000 left to support growing businesses in the county.

The organisation, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, started its Growth Grant scheme in 2018 and has paid 265 local businesses a total of £1m, contributing to the creation of 552 local jobs.

The hub’s SME Recovery Grant, launched last September, has paid out £500,000 to 162 businesses.

The Recovery Grant scheme is closed but the Growth Grant Scheme remains open, with £490,000 available for the rest of this year. The hub says it aims to get the money to the county’s most ambitious businesses.

Recent recipients of Growth Grant funds have included Dorset Digital Print at Three Legged Cross; the upholstery and furnishing business Sonnaz Ltd in Wimborne; the artisan sauce maker Weymouth 51; Fischer Panda, which makes generators in Verwood; Blandford-based craft beer maker Barefaced Brewing; and Beatnik Decals, which makes decals for Volkswagen and camper vans.

Chris Fower, sales and marketing director at Fischer Panda, said: “Dorset Growth Hub took an interest in our digital transformation project to support our further growth and with the support of their grant scheme we were able to broaden the scope of what we had originally conceived. The grant application and claim process was clearly communicated with us and we had a seamless experience dealing with the same advisor from start to finish.”

Nick Gregory, operations director at Dorset Growth Hub, said: “It has been a challenge for us to reach the right businesses that are eligible for the Growth Grant Scheme in the past year, as many businesses’ top priority was surviving.

“Now we are almost out the other end and businesses are planning forwards, and spending on new projects. Our team are here to help get your application approved and provide extra cash towards your project.”

Dawn Leader, business growth consultant at Dorset Growth Hub, said: “I am thrilled that we have been able to have assisted so many businesses in Dorset to grow their turnover and workforce across the county. I am keen to speak to anyone to see whether we can support their growth aspirations.”

Details are at dorsetgrowthhub.co.uk/grants or business can email info@dorsetgrowthhub.co.uk with a brief outline of the business and the proposed project.