Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Massive jobs and business boost for East Kent

Local businesses will be able to apply for interest-free loans provided they have plans to grow their company and employ more people, after Kent County Council launched a massive £40 million Government-backed scheme to boost the East Kent economy.

Kent County Council will lead the delivery of ‘Expansion East Kent’ – with the aim of creating 5,000 new jobs by offering local firms in Thanet, Dover, Shepway and Canterbury £35 million in loans. The project is supported by the Government's Regional Growth Fund.

The remaining £5 million will be invested in rail line speed enhancements to reduce travel times from London to Ramsgate to around 1 hour, further benefitting business and tourism in the area and placing Manston airport on the map.

An audience of business leaders and entrepreneurs on Friday (27 April) packed the Winter Gardens, in Margate, to learn more about Expansion East Kent.

Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, said:

“This is a tremendous boost for the East Kent economy. Expansion East Kent is an ambitious programme to create thousands of new jobs by developing the private sector business base, counteracting the effects of recent economic shocks in the area.

“The programme also aims to unlock private sector finance, stimulating more than £300 million in associated investment over the course of the next four years and creating a major driver for the East Kent economy.

“Since Pfizer’s announcement to exit from its site last year, we’ve left no stone unturned trying to support current business, develop new opportunities and lay down a solid foundation for growth.

“Expansion East Kent will provide financial support to firms as interest free loans. This intelligent use of funding means we can recycle the money to provide vital business support on an on-going basis, benefitting local firms and creating local jobs for years to come.

“Expansion East Kent is being delivered by Kent County Council. We will bear the administration costs, which means it will be run at zero cost to business.”

Almost all business sectors in East Kent – and those locating or looking to expand into the area – can potentially benefit from the scheme.

Mr Carter added:

“We want to encourage applications from sectors where new investment is particularly important and can yield significant economic benefits, for example manufacturing, advanced engineering, tourism, life sciences and greentech industries. This significantly builds on our work to help market and promote the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone in Sandwich and will have an impact across the whole of East Kent.”

South Thanet MP, Laura Sandys, said:

“The Regional Growth Fund offers unrivalled opportunities for East Kent. Unlike previous Government backed schemes, £35 million of the Fund will go directly into supporting businesses to expand, create new local jobs and recruit staff. By providing interest free loans, it is not a quick cash injection but a long term sustainable solution to ensure our local business community and jobs market thrives into the future. Securing the Regional Growth Fund is a huge victory – particularly for the Thanet and Sandwich corridor.”

To find out more about Expansion East Kent and for full details of the application process, please visit:

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