Lancashire Business View awarded 4m to kick-start county jobs drive

The investment will be leveraged by the private sector to a total of £13m and, over a two year period, the Lancashire Business Enterprise Programme will support 600 businesses and create 1,000 new jobs.

Starting in 2013, businesses which have been operating for up to three years will be able to access up to £50,000 in grant funding with business advice, mentoring and support part of the package to successful bidders.

The grants will be provided on a 1:3 ratio – for each pound invested by the Programme, the recipient will invest £3 and must also demonstrate the capability for creating new jobs as a result of the investment.

Of the total £4m pot, £3m will be awarded as grants and, with private sector funds, this means £12m will be invested over two years.

Richard Slater, publisher of Lancashire Business View magazine, said: “This is fantastic news for the county and a privilege for us to be at the heart of an investment and jobs creation programme.

“What sets it apart from traditional grant schemes is that this one is being led by the private sector and will be driven by entrepreneurial thinking.

“Grants will be linked to the number and quality of jobs created, the amount of private sector investment attracted, and the additional economic impacts accrued.”

Economic development company Regenerate Pennine Lancashire will be Lancashire Business View’s delivery partner, while Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council will be the accountable body, responsible for the management of the funds.

“Getting to this point with the bid has required a true private-public partnership and it has been a real team effort to secure the funds,” added Richard Slater.

“What is particularly gratifying is that while the infrastructure for the bid is in the East of the county, all of the county will benefit.”

Coun Andy Kay, executive member for resources at Blackburn with Darwen Council and chair of Regenerate’s governing body, said: “This is a very exciting programme which will help hundreds of new businesses across the county, helping them to grow in size and strength.

“We can help them every step of the way. We have worked hard with our partners to secure this money for the whole of Lancashire to support businesses when they need it most and create much-needed good employment.”

Lancashire Business View’s project has the support of key figures across the county including the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Federation of Small Business (FSB), East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and Pennine Lancashire’s council leaders.

Edwin Booth, chair of the LEP, and head of Booths supermarkets, said: “This project will help to support the LEP in driving economic growth in Lancashire through securing new private sector investment and creating new jobs.”

Mike Damms, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We believe this programme will add substantially to the county’s rediscovery of the entrepreneurial spirit that has been world-leading in the recent past.

“Lancashire Business View are important partners and catalysts of partnership working and economic promotion.”

Gary Lovatt, regional chairman of the FSB, which has 4,000 members in Lancashire, said: “Small businesses make up over 99 per cent of all UK businesses, providing almost half of all private sector jobs and contributing a similar proportion of UK GDP. Assisting the smallest businesses to prosper will boost the whole economy.”

Details of the Lancashire Business Enterprise Programme will be announced at a later date.

Other Lancashire winners in the Regional Growth Fund announcement are:
• Aircelle, Burnley, which is developing a scheme for the aerospace supply chain involving premises construction, capital investment and R&D.
• Erlson Precision Components, Skelmersdale, which will carry out infrastructure improvements to the current facility.
• Kilgour Metal Treatments, Bispham, which will purchase and renovate a derelict building and invest in advanced manufacturing technologies.

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