Ipswich/Waveney: New Anglia LEP to submit �3m Regional Growth Fund bid

A �3MILLION grant fund bid to help give businesses in Suffolk and Norfolkthe finance and confidence to create jobs will be submitted to the Government today.

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will apply for money from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) to set up a scheme to help business investment in more deprived parts of the region.

If successful, businesses in Ipswich and Waveney in Suffolk, and Norwich and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, will be able to apply for grants of between �25,000 and �100,000.

In return, the businesses receiving the grants will have to invest an extra �4 for every pound awarded through the growth fund.

New Anglia programme director Chris Starkie said: “It is pretty clear from local evidence that there is this gap in lending. There are sources of lending from banks, to business angels, organisations like Finance East and other provider, but none are able to bridge that first 20%.

“Our grants will fill that gap. The idea is this will give businesses more confidence to expand and more confidence to ask for finance from the banks and it gives the banks more confidence to lend.”

However, there will be stiff competition from other regions for a slice of the government’s �2.4billion pot which was set up in 2011 to help businesses create more private sector jobs, particularly in areas of high unemployment and high public sector job dependency.

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Mr Starkie said: “We have targeted our fund around locations within the New Anglia area that fit most closely with the RGF criteria laid out by the government to maximise our chances of being successful.”

Research carried out by the University of East Anglia Business School and the Federation of Small Businesses into finance showed there was a gap between what banks are prepared to lend and what businesses would like in order to grow. Businesses are also struggling with the terms of lending and the interest rates available.

Mr Starkie said: “Our grant scheme will reduce the risk to banks for lending. Instead of lending 100%, they will only have to lend 80%.”

“As well as providing the grant, under the plans the LEP would also help set up the businesses with mentoring support and direct them to other existing finance projects and schemes. It is about credible business plans and plans that will create jobs,” he added. “The idea is that role of the Lep is to act as a co-ordinator and catalyst.”

Among the partners the LEP will be working with Ipswich-based Finance East, the East of England Co-Operative Investment Fund as well as the banks and other business support organisations. Newspaper group Archant will also provide advertising to help promote the scheme.

The scheme has been developed by New Anglia LEP with Suffolk County Council and is being supported by the local authorities in the areas covered by the fund. It has also been supported by the Eastern Enterprise Hub and Lovewell Blake.