City of Wolverhampton Council picked up a ‘Highly Commended’ honour at the Federation of Small Businesses Local Authority Small Business Friendly Awards on Friday. The Black Country GOLD initiative was recognised in the Best ‘Small Business Friendly’ Programme or Campaign category at the Edgbaston ceremony. The scheme has been led by Wolverhampton in partnership with Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall councils, and the University of Wolverhampton.

Almost 40 SMEs in Wolverhampton have benefitted from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) cash as part of a Black Country programme to help them expand.

It has provided support to 86 Black Country businesses – including 37 in Wolverhampton - by giving them the opportunity to apply for match-funded grants of up to £16,000 to support expansion projects.

The scheme has had a significant impact on the Black Country economy by enabling businesses to increase their output, develop new products and diversify into new markets in the UK and overseas.

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “The Black Country GOLD scheme has enabled many businesses across the Black Country to carry out expansion projects which had been put on the back burner because of lack of funding or other factors.

“The scheme has been a really good example of the Black Country local authorities and the University of Wolverhampton working together to support enterprise and create new employment opportunities.

“Well done to all the team on this project – they fully deserve this honour.”

It is not the first time in recent years the City of Wolverhampton Council has been recognised at the Federation of Small Businesses Local Authority Small Business Friendly Awards.

In 2013 it picked up a Highly Commended award in the Best all Round Small Business Friendliness category for its Business Networks project, and in 2014 a Highly Commended award in the Best Small Business Friendly Programme or Campaign category for its Wolverhampton Women’s Business Forum (WWBF).