Business development grant

The East Midlands Development Agency (emda) has announced an £80,000 grant to help develop business opportunities at SL Engineering in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

The Grant for Business (GBI) is a discretionary grant awarded by Regional Development Agencies and the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

The scheme is designed to assist businesses that need initial capital investment for long-term projects aimed at improving employment, productivity, skills and competitiveness.

SL Engineering is a manufacturer of rigid tube assemblies and precision machined components for the aerospace, industrial, marine and commercial markets. The tube assemblies are used in applications such as fuel, hydraulic, air, gas, water, cabling and oil systems.

Emda’s GBI will enable SL Engineering to acquire plant and technical machinery that will allow the company to increase productivity and efficiently process advanced materials and special alloys.

The grant will create 11 full-time jobs over the next three years to add to the 41 full-time workers currently employed. In addition, it will assist in creating formalised training plans and continuous improvement initiatives for staff throughout the company.

Due to the current economic downturn, the company believes that its best opportunity for expansion will come from developing highly-specialised technical products.

In line with this strategy, part of the funding will contribute to the investment in mill-turn machines, which are expected to increase company sales by 25 per cent this year and double them by 2012.

John Pickard, SL Engineering’s joint managing director, said: ‘The GBI grant is vitally important for us. It is assisting us to purchase the equipment we need to grow our business and cost-effectively manufacture technically challenging new product lines. This is helping us to increase sales, enter new markets and create new jobs and we are very optimistic about the future.’