Mersey Maritime Group is urging small businesses to access free EU funded support designed to help owner managers capitalise on the region's maritime boom.
Mersey Maritime chief executive Jim Teasdale said billions of pounds of investment are being pumped into the region to expand Merseyside's port facilities and infrastructure, bringing tremendous opportunities for growth.
And now firms with maritime links in trade, logistics or services can qualify for free support through the new Maritime Sector Development Programme to drive expansion.
The programme, backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), offers a broad range of support in areas including training, recruitment, skills audits and apprenticeships.
Further areas of focus include business development, business collaboration and networking events as well as targeted introductions. Mr Teasdale said the programme also delivers marketing support to help SMEs drive profile, reputation and sales.
"The programme which is run by Mersey Maritime and supported by ERDF presents a terrific opportunity to the region's small businesses," said Mr Teasdale. "It offers expert, bespoke advice and support to firms which want to take full advantage of the economic explosion heralded by the Liverpool SuperPort strategy. The developments which are getting underway now are going to transform the scale of the maritime sector in Merseyside. It is growth on a scale not seen in our lifetime.We are urging local businesses to use the Maritime Sector Development Programme to make sure they are ready when the regional economy shifts up a gear."
The Liverpool SuperPort project includes the construction of the £300m Liverpool2 post-Panamax freight terminal, the £431m Mersey Gateway Bridge and the expansion of Liverpool Airport among a tranche of investment. Directly and indirectly SuperPort is predicted to bring £12 billion of investment to Merseyside, creating up to 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.
Mr Teasdale said the Maritime Sector Development Programme can also offer crucial guidance and advice on accessing finance, moving premises, investment and technical issues.
"The programme has been designed to ensure that as Merseyside's maritime economy expands, we can help businesses keep up to reap the benefits," he said. "We can offer a broad range of services to any SME with a maritime connection. This includes manufacturing and engineering firms and logistics and construction companies. Mersey Maritime also offers advice and support to legal and accountancy firms and companies involved in research and development."