The business community has rallied to the call by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg for North East companies to bid for a slice of funding in the sixth round of the Regional Growth Fund.
As reported in The Journal, the Government’s flagship job creation programme is entering its sixth round, giving firms across the UK to put growth plans into action and safeguard or create jobs by bidding for a part of a £200m fund.
The Govermnent is currently investing £310m from the first five rounds of its flagship job creation cash pot at a local level, giving backing to 98 projects and programmes across the region which will create and safeguard thousands of jobs, while also stimulating £1.5bn of private sector investment.
In April the North East was handed £57m of RGF cash – and among the 11 regional projects set to be handed funds was a £30m Let’s Grow bid by The Journal, business services group BE Group and accountants UNW.
It was the second time the Let’s Grow fund had been handed that amount, having been able to demonstrate how the £25m awarded so far, to more than 60 businesses, had created or safeguarded 3,000 jobs.
NECC chief executive, James Ramsbotham, welcomed news of the latest RGF round.
He said: “The North East has been incredibly successful in previous rounds of the Regional Growth Fund and a continuation of that in this round would be extremely welcome. The number of regional projects securing approval represents a clear demonstration that we have the quality businesses required to draw down this kind of high value investment.
“It is particularly pleasing that this important funding is spread across a range of well-established, innovative companies, which gives confidence that a high proportion of investment will come to fruition.
“It is important that the Government provides clear guidance over the future direction of RGF and other measures to support businesses investment in the North East.”
Stephen Catchpole, managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, reiterated the Tees Valley area’s success rate within the funding framework.
To date, 16 private sector projects in Tees Valley have started, supported by £41.52m of RGF grant. These projects have a capital value of £367.97m and will create 2,222 new jobs and safeguard a further 1,548 jobs He said: “Tees Valley has a very successful track record of attracting grants under the Regional Growth Fund framework with schemes across all five Tees Valley boroughs winning support.
“We hope that RGF Round 6 will help the Tees Valley to further enhance, diversify and rebalance its economic landscape.
“I would urge go-ahead, dynamic private sector organisations from the area to make submissions in this latest round of bidding and TVU is on hand to provide any guidance that companies may need to put together a bid.”
Tony Edwards, a partner at Baker Tilly North East who has advised on more than 30 successful RGF applications also welcomed the news and encouraged businesses to act fast.
He added: “Eligible private sector firms across the country who are planning projects that will generate significant investment and sustainable jobs will be able to apply for grant funding worth more than £1m each, but it’s important that they take account of the recent changes to State Aid rules, and act quickly before the window of opportunity shuts on 30 September this year.”