ENTREPRENEURS are being urged to apply for a special grant to get their business ideas off the ground.

A new enterprise grant fund designed to bring budding ventures to life in Shropshire has been launched.

The Shropshire and Herefordshire Business Enterprise Fund is set to help 160 people start up a new business as well as support a further 140 people with existing businesses.

Two types of grants worth between £1,500 and £5,000 will be on offer over the next three years who are looking to either get a new business off the ground or improve and boost an existing business.

The fund is supported by £1.1 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and matched by the businesses themselves.

Norman Price, deputy chair of the West Midlands ERDF local management committee, said: “Taking the first step on the journey of starting up your own business is often the most difficult, and keeping existing businesses afloat in the current climate is challenging.

“With reduced general finance and support available it is vital now more than ever that we are able to help the people and businesses in the local community.

“I am pleased that we are able to offer ERDF support to this project that will begin to remove the barriers preventing growth and expansion.”

Cllr Mike Owen, cabinet member for economic growth and prosperity, added: “Shropshire and Herefordshire have declining rates of new business starts and this was further impacted by the economic downturn where we witnessed more traditional sources of finance for businesses falling sharply.

“Through the new enterprise fund, the council can really boost enterprise and help businesses succeed.”

 Visit shropshire.gov.uk/sbef for more details.