A CROSS Hills designer radiator firm is among the first entrepreneurial businesses to utilise a major funding initiative.

Rapidly-expanding Crimson Bear has received support from two Yorkshire-based lenders.

The Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) and Finance for Enterprise (FFE) secured the tender in March for providing so-called Microfinance.

Since then more than 30 loans, totalling £1.2 million, have been distributed – through the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund – across the region.

Online applications have exceeded 120.

Paul Johnson and Andrew Smith, who founded Crimson Bear, received a BEF loan in 2015 to buy stock.

Now they have successfully applied for £31,000 to further expand warehouse and office space and recruit a third apprentice and an online trading manager.

Mr Johnson said: “We’re grateful for the loan as it means we can focus on the development of our apprentices as they progress through the company, something we’re extremely passionate about.

“We’ve even sent apprentices to our radiator factory in Poland so they can become fully immersed in the business.”

Stephen Waud, of BEF, said he was delighted with the initial response to the scheme.

“Reaching £1.2m loaned is a very positive start to managing the Microfinance product of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, in partnership with the FFE team,” he added.

“It’s fantastic to see businesses confident about the future and applying for loans of over £25,000.

“There’s a real sense of growth across numerous industries, whether in terms of facilities, land or staff, and the £10m Microfinance fund is an invaluable regional resource.”

Leanne Pilkington, finance and marketing officer at FFE, said reaching the £1.2m lending mark was “great news”.

“It strengthens business in the region,” she added.

“It’s important to us that we can encourage these innovative industries, with support from the fund.”

Sean Hutchinson – senior manager at British Business Bank – said the whole Yorkshire, Humber and Tees Valley region had been “incredibly receptive” to the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

“It is very positive that fund managers have already seen a large number of businesses making enquiries for finance – demonstrating the strong appetite for growth,” he added.