EFFORTS to help accelerate the growth of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Argyll and Bute are to be boosted by additional funding of almost £500,000.

Phase two of the Business Gateway Local Growth Accelerator Programme (LGAP), which will see a £483k business support programme delivered by the Business Gateway team, was approved last week by the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee.

Phase one of the programme closed in December last year.

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LGAP gives growing local businesses the chance to access grant funding and specialist advice to help them expand. It is funded by Argyll and Bute Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Phase two will include ERDF funding of £338,100, with the council required to provide match funding of £144,900.

Subject to approval by the full council, the £144,900 will be wholly provided from the West of Scotland Loan Fund (WSLF) surplus, meaning phase two will bring no additional cost to the council.

Councillor Aileen Morton, policy lead for economic development, said: “This funding comes at a time when growing our local economy is more important than ever. It’s a significant sum of money that could help propel existing businesses to bigger things, launch new businesses and create new jobs.”

More than 100 Argyll and Bute SMEs registered with LGAP in phase one, with the demand not expected to decrease in the next phase.

Phase two will now go to full council for approval next month, after which the programme will be ready for new registrations.