Multi-million pound scheme set up to revive economic growth

Published: 9 Jan 2013 10:303 comments

A MULTI-MILLION pound cash pot has been set up to revive economic growth by helping business owners struggling to secure funding.

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Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) has pumped £7.25m into a new Escalator Fund - aimed at developing the next generation of businesses to 'create jobs and prosperity'.

The partnership, made up of local authorities and businesses in Berkshire, will offer loans that bear commercial interest to small medium enterprises (SMEs) who show the potential for significant growth and job opportunities.

Steve Lamb, TVB LEP chairman, said: "It is designed to provide finance to a range of businesses from start-ups to the more established, looking for funding which is difficult to obtain from more traditional sources.

"Only businesses that are viewed to have the potential to deliver significant growth and employment opportunities for Thames Valley Berkshire will be considered, as this scheme is all about growing and empowering the local economy."

The initiative has been financed through the Growing Places Fund - a Government grant aimed at promoting economic growth.

The loan scheme is split into three categories with £4m earmarked to accelerate the growth of companies, £1.75m to support newly-established businesses that need limited support and £1.5m for 'ambitious' growing businesses - which must be matched by private funds.

Loan pricing, which differs for each category, will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Applications are now being accepted. Successful bids will receive funding from February 1.

The allocation process will be managed by independent, not-for-profit community interest company, The FSE Group.

Kevan Jones, The FSE Group chief executive, said: "Many potential applicants are already in the pipeline and I urge companies to include apprentices in their business growth plans and to look at the criteria from every possible angle."

The TVB LEP includes all the county's six unitary authorities: Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham.

To submit an application, visit www.thamesvalleyberkshire.co.uk/growing-places-fund/

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