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A £7m boost for business group
THE first anniversary of the Enterprise M3 Local Enter-prise Partnership was marked with £7million of extra funding from the Government.
The news was announced at the LEP’s first Business Growth Conference held last week, at Sandown Park Racecourse.
More than 200 business people learned about the LEP’s achievements in its first year, and were told about this latest grant which will support economic development across the Enterprise M3 area.
LEP chairman Geoff French said the £7m funding highlighted the Government’s confidence in Enterprise M3 to deliver growth to Hampshire and Surrey based businesses. The money tops up the Growing Places Fund of £14.7m pledged by the Government last year.
Clearly delighted with the news, Mr French said: “The Government wouldn’t have allocated this extra chunk of money if it didn’t think Enterprise M3 was heading in the right direction.”
Mr French stressed that the money is to be spent on infrastructure projects that will support economic growth by addressing immediate infrastructure constraints, creating housing and jobs for local people.
He said: “We are inviting applications for funds from the private and public sectors and will announce which projects we will be supporting before the summer.
“And we’re being encouraged to spend money on projects that will also give us some return, so that we can reuse that money at some stage in the future to get more projects started.”
Mr French described 2011-12 as a foundation year for a number of key initiatives that the LEP will be implementing over the next 12 months, noting that the LEP covers one of the highest-performing economic regions in the UK, outperforming the national and regional GVA – Gross Value Added – per head figures by eight per cent and four per cent respectively.
“We realise that there is still a great deal of work to do in order to achieve everything from infra-structure projects through to providing advice for business start-ups,” said Mr French.
“The Enterprise M3 Action Groups, chaired by business and involving local government, have started to address a number of key areas such as apprenticeships and rural broadband that are holding back economic development across Hampshire and Surrey.
“Going into this new financial year, we have the full support of all the local authorities across the region with our plans.
Most importantly we will be looking to our private sector supporters to build real sustainable projects to generate economic growth across infrastructure and enterprise for the years ahead.
“We want to ensure that as the UK comes out of recession, the M3 region is well placed to be the region of choice for businesses looking for growth and support.”
Other issues discussed included lobbying for superfast broadband in the rural areas, helping businesses to access finance, the impact of red tape and helping business to under-stand changes to the planning system.