The County Durham Growth Fund has awarded £5.4 million in grants to 21 companies from across the county, helping to create over 500 jobs.

Established in April 2019, the fund is a £8.9 million capital grant scheme providing grants to small and medium enterprises in County Durham to accelerate their growth.

The fund is managed by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, in partnership with UMi, which has a dedicated team of advisors ready to help with initial eligibility checks and funding applications.

In addition, to the £5.4 million total awarded over the last two years, the County Durham Growth Fund levered a further £8. 66 million in private sector investment.

Each of the 21 companies supported has secured a sizeable investment grant to enable them to purchase new equipment, increase their capacity, improve efficiency or expand into new markets and create 518 new jobs between them.

The successful businesses include close-proximity radiography pioneer SafeRad Ltd, innovative modular housebuilder CoreHaus, steel specialist Raisco, manufacturing companies BTS Fabrications, Durham Box, Central Doorset Manufacturing and BD Fabrications, commercial cubical and locker manufacturer ALM Products Ltd, automotive specialist Darren Oliver Auto Electrics, educational CIC Heartwood Skills, repair specialist Furniture Clinic and printer Howarth/Newton Press.

Bishop Auckland-based BD Fabrications, which manufactures bespoke architectural products, facades and cladding for projects across the country, secured £30,000 grant funding to purchase a new electric punch machine to increase the firm’s efficiency and improve production.

The company, which is based at South Church Enterprise Park, is now in a much stronger position to win larger contracts going forward. The new machine will transform how the firm operates and will enable it to implement its ambitious plans for growth in 2021. The investment is also helping BD Fabrications create 5 new roles to boost its workforce.

Jason Patterson, director at BD Fabrications said: “We were hugely excited to be awarded a grant from the County Durham Growth Fund.  We are very proud to say that it was a record year for us on all fronts, exceeding all targets whilst retaining all of our staff and having a big recruitment drive into 2021.  The fund allowed us to purchase a new Amada punch to advance our operations here in Bishop Auckland.”

Corrugated packaging manufacturer Durham Box is undergoing a significant period of growth following the acquisition of additional land near the original site.

The company has been awarded a £200,000 grant to build a 20,000 sq. ft extension to its site in Bishop Auckland and re-design existing space to improve production facilities.  It will eventually occupy a 110,000 sq. ft site in order to scale up the business and meet the increase in demand for its products. The project will lead to the creation of 20 new jobs as the company rolls out its growth plans.

Dan Morris, Director at Durham Box, said: “The acquisition of the land and investment in new machinery has put us in an ideal position to expand our client base and improve efficiency.

“However, to facilitate this increase in volume and to cope with the rise in demand of our products and services, the company needed to re-design the factory layout, and with the support of the County Durham Growth Fund we have been able to do just that.”

The capital grant funding supports both established and new businesses that are looking to either expand or set up new operations in County Durham.

Sarah Slaven, Business Durham’s interim Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to have been able to help 21 businesses with their capital investment projects over the last two years, to enable them to achieve their ambitions through expanding into new markets, becoming more productive and increasing their workforce.  

“The County Durham Growth Fund is just one of the ways in which we support our businesses, and we hope it will continue to play an important role in encouraging businesses to invest and expand their operations here.”

Elizbeth, Cabinet member for Economy and Partnerships at Durham County Council, said: “The County Durham Growth Fund has been a huge success since it was launched two years ago. We’re delighted to have been able to support so many companies from across the county, all great examples of the dynamic small and medium-sized businesses that are vital to our economy and our local communities.

“We are committed to supporting businesses to expand and thrive and the fund’s second anniversary is the perfect opportunity to look back at the difference this funding has made – both in terms of enabling businesses to realise their ambitions and in the hundreds of new jobs it has helped to create within the county.”

All successful grant applications are appraised by UNW LLP, an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers. The funding has been secured from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

To check eligibility and get help with the application process contact UMi on either 0191 7161006 or 07443 231757, or visit

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