Last week, the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, named the Green Shoots Fund among 130 projects selected to benefit from the £1bn Regional Growth Fund, (RGF). What effect will this regional scheme have on the business community?
Earlier this week Charlie Mullins' of Pimlico Plumbers gave the government's RGF seven out of ten, saying: "It will show that public money, when spent correctly, can have a direct and immediate impact on the economy rather than being lost in the financial sector’s Bermuda Triangle of corporate greed."
The Green Shoots Fund could be one example of that wise-ish government spending. The University of Wolverhampton, alongside long-standing partners the local Express & Star, has secured £1.4m to enable regional businesses to grow and create new jobs in the Midlands.
Businesses from certain key sectors will be able to bid for funding when the 18-month scheme is officially launched in January 2013. Regional high-growth SMEs will be able to apply. The winning bids will be chosen on the basis of job benefits and the potential for growth in the economy.
Support will be targeted at businesses from sectors identified by the local enterprise partnership (LEP) as having the most potential for growth and maximising impact for the local economy. These include; advanced manufacturing; environmental technologies and business services. Adrian Faber, editor of the Express & Star, explains: “We are aiming to help small and medium sized companies to get a financial boost along with advice and support to help create badly needed jobs.”
The initiative will give 50 SMEs grants of up to £50,000 to invest, create new jobs and expand in the Midlands. The fund will also incorporate the option to work with local business mentors and coaches to maximise the benefits of the investment and reduce the risks of failure.
“Alongside our partners the Express and Star, we are delighted to be bringing this level of prosperity into the region which will enable businesses to thrive,” said Professor Ian Oakes, pro vice-chancellor research and enterprise at the University of Wolverhampton. “It is particularly significant at an exciting time for the region, with the i54 development and new Jaguar Land Rover engine plant on the edge of Wolverhampton.”
The fund will create a minimum of 75 new jobs, meaning unemployed graduates will also benefit from Green Shoots. Professor Oakes continues: “Successful competitive companies will ensure we retain the skills of our graduates in the region to grow our economy, and continue to develop opportunities for jobs and career progression.”
The Green Shoots Fund could provide the Midlands with a boost to job-creation and business growth. We, and many others, will be watching carefully...