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Marches bids submitted for regional growth funding

Geoffrey Davies OBE, Marches Local Enterprise Partnership

Bids totalling £3.5 million for projects which will create hundreds of new jobs in the region are being backed by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.

Three bids have been endorsed by the LEP, including £1 million towards the Whitchurch Electricity Upgrade in Shropshire – a £4.5 million scheme which would create more than 900 direct and indirect jobs.

The partnership, which is tasked with revitalising the economy of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Herefordshire, has also joined forces with Worcestershire LEP for two of the bids in the third round of the Regional Growth Fund.

They are an application for £1m for the extension of the Redundant Buildings Grant Scheme (RBGS) until March 2015 and £1.5 million for a Capital Asset Purchase Scheme.

RGBS was granted £1.5 million in round two of the RGF, and it is estimated that an extension would bring 220 jobs, as well as 110 indirect and 110 safeguard jobs. These would be in addition to the 330 jobs expected to be created in the Marches as a result of the initial phase.

The CAPs project will offer grants from £5,000 to £100,000, to help SMEs purchase key equipment to grow their business across the Marches and Worcestershire region, creating 142 direct and indirect jobs, with the project expected to bring in around £3.4 million of private sector investment.

Dr Geoffrey Davies OBE, chairman of the Marches LEP, said: “These bids show the desire and commitment of both the public and private sector to create the conditions for growth and enterprise.

“We are backing the resubmission of the £1m bid for the Whitchurch electricity scheme, which is vital given the sever constraints in the local electricity supply. The project will create 407 direct jobs and 530 indirect jobs in the area.

“The electricity supply network needs this investment to enable local companies to expand and grow and assist with the development of new, much needed employment and residential land.”

The Redundant Buildings Grant Scheme was originally granted £1.5 million bid from the Regional Growth Fund in 2011. It is being used to provide grants to small businesses and start-ups in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin which are bringing unused buildings back to productive economic use.

The bids are three of 409 applications competing for a share of £1 billion funding in the third round of the Regional Growth Fund. The projects collectively are bidding for £2.68 billion and will be assessed by the Independent Advisory Panel, chaired by Lord Heseltine, over the summer.

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