More than 100 individuals from organisations across the Solent area attended the latest Solent LEP business support event on Friday 20th March at Portsmouth Guildhall.
The event saw the announcement of an additional £1.85m of funding available to businesses through the LEP's Bridging the Gap Fund and news that the £16.74m Solent Growing Places Fund will be re-opening for applications.
The popular small and medium business (SME) Bridging the Gap grant programme will now operate two funding streams: the existing Bridging the Gap Impact Fund - offering start-up funding and safeguarding funding for individuals and SMEs effected by economic shocks; and the new Bridging the Gap Growth Fund - offering grants to growing SMEs to create jobs.
The new Bridging the Gap programme was launched by Leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones at the event and comes from funding available through the Solent's Local Growth Deal with Government for use in 2015/16.
Cllr Donna Jones, Solent LEP Director and Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said:
"The Bridging the Gap programme has been hugely successful across the Solent, with over £3.6m allocated to new start-ups and SMEs to create and safeguard over 600 jobs. I have seen first-hand the excellent work that the Bridging the Gap Fund has been supporting in Portsmouth and I am delighted that we have now been able to extend this funding further. We are the only LEP in the South East offering grant funding support of this nature and it really is a fantastic opportunity which I would encourage local businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of."
The event also saw an announcement in relation to the Solent Growing Places Fund, a £16.74m loan fund which has been supporting infrastructure projects across the Solent, including the new Centre of Excellence in Engineering & Manufacturing Advanced Skills Training (CEMAST) which opened in September 2014 on the Solent Enterprise Zone.
Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government said:
"Growing Places is an innovative revolving fund which, by offering loan funding for local infrastructure projects, means that the LEP can re-invest funds as they are repaid to support more projects across the area. I am pleased that the first projects are now repaying and delighted to be able to announce that the next funding round will be opening very soon."
The next Solent business support event will be held on the Isle of Wight on April 28th. To book a place please email your name and organisation name to firstname.lastname@example.org - places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Further information on the Bridging the Gap Impact and Bridging the Gap Growth Funds can be found here.
Further information on the Solent Growing Places Fund can be found here.