A £1.8MILLION package of support for Southend businesses has been launched.

Small and medium-sized enterprises, including startups, can apply for south Essex business growth grants from a £1.2million funding pot.

A £120,000 “innovation voucher” scheme, which gives firms access to specialists from the University of Essex and Anglia Ruskin University to help them improve their performance, develop new methods and innovations, widen their markets, and increase productivity, is also on offer.

Vouchers of up to £5,000 will be made available to help businesses access the best possible advice, research and support.

A new calendar of workshops and events by Essex Chambers of Commerce will also be funded through the programme and businesses.

Graham Longley, deputy leader of Southend Council, said: “The funding that we have available offers businesses a fantastic opportunity to grow, be more innovative, improve performance and raise profit margins.

“There is a wide range of support available, and this event will help them to find out more, so I would urge local business people to attend.

“The overall project will help to create and safeguard over 500 jobs and will engage over 1,300 local businesses.”

For more information, visit www.businesssouthend.co.uk or email southendbusiness@southend.gov.uk