LEP seeks more aid for smaller firms

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Local Enterprise Partnership chiefs are trying to win a further £25 million of Government funding for the city region’s smaller firms on the back of the burgeoning success of an earlier bid.

LEP board member and Cutlers’ Company Junior Warden David Grey says there is an unsatisfied appetite among small and medium sized firms for investment in new growth initiatives.

Mr Grey was speaking after revealing that the LEP had received bids totalling £77 million from local SMEs for the £25 million funding the LEP secured from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

“We could have invested the money three times over,” said Mr Grey. “It shows that there is a pent up demand for investment in growth.

“The next thing we have to do is to convince the Government to continue to fund this growth, now that we have demonstrated the volume of demand is there.”

The LEP expects to announce the name of the first SMEs whose bids have received final approval within a matter of weeks, and it should know whether the Government has approved its bid for a further £25 million by next month.

Mr Grey revealed that the LEP also had strong hopes that the Government will agree to extend the City Region’s Enterprise Zone to compensate for up to 60 hectares of land that may have to be set aside for the HS2 high speed rail link to Meadowhall.

The zone offers a number of financial and other benefits to companies that choose to move there and the LEP is keen to see that the overall area of the zone is not reduced.

At the same time, hopes are rising that the HS2 route will be moved so that it will no longer pass through Outokumpu’s site off Shepcote Lane and the Meadowhall works of Firth Rixson and Pressure Technologies.