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Major jobs boost for West Midlands as LEPs set up £125m regional investment fund

Major jobs boost for West Midlands as LEPs set up £125m regional investment fund

🕔06.Feb 2014

A £125 million Regional Investment Fund set up by the West Midlands’ Local Enterprise Partnerships will create up to 9,000 new jobs, Chamberlain Files can reveal.

The region’s six LEPs have agreed to operate the joint fund, which will be financed by European Union money and is expected to help 400 businesses to get off the ground.

Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP chairman Andy Street said the Regional Investment Fund would invest money in the markets and use the income created to help new businesses to get underway and existing businesses to grow.

In an exclusive interview with Chamberlain Files, Mr Street said: “The six LEP chairs have agreed that there will be a Regional Investment Fund for the West Midlands. It will be supported through European structural funds.

“This money will be invested to create income for business growth.”

The Regional Investment Fund will help support businesses in the Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Marches, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire and Worcestershire LEP areas.

Each of the West Midlands LEPs have been allocated cash from the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) to help support businesses. Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s total allocation from ESIF is £255 million, while the Black Country LEP will receive £177 million between 2014 and 2020.

The six LEPs, each will use some of the money from their ESIF to produce a central fund worth more than £50m.

This will enable the LEPs to access an estimated further £75m, creating a £125m Regional Investment Fund to provide access to provide loans for small businesses, loan guarantees, seed corn equity, growth equity, mezzanine finance and finance as well as finance for innovation and low carbon businesses.

Mr Street added: “This is excellent news for businesses right across the West Midlands and will provide a wide range of funds to help small and medium-sized enterprises that are looking to grow and create jobs.

“By working together and pooling our resources in this way, we will be able to make an even greater impact by leveraging in private sector investment.

“As a result, we will be able to help even more businesses of various sizes with targeted support and finance.

“Although there is still significant work to be done to set up the mechanisms to deliver these funds to businesses, by reaching this agreement we have taken a huge step forward.”

Decisions about how to spend income from the fund will probably be taken by a board consisting of the leaders of the West Midlands councils and LEP chairmen.

The fund proposal underlines growing closer co-operation between the six West Midlands LEPs.

The chairmen of GBSLEP, the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Stoke and Staffordshire, The Marches and Worcestershire meet on a quarterly basis to discuss matters of mutual interest.

The six chairmen met Cities Minister Greg Clark earlier this week to talk about the West Midlands as a region and to discuss their Strategic Economic Plans.

GBSLEP has set a target to create 100,000 net new jobs by 2020 across the LEP area.

Mr Street insisted the LEP was on course to meet the target and it was likely the 100,000 figure would be increased.

He sought to downplay any suggestion that GBSLEP’s Strategic Economic Plan will contain a raft of new measures.

Mr Street added: “This is about all of the big opportunities we have already identified. It’s not about new things but about making the most of the opportunities we have already identified.”

It is likely that the plan will concentrate on key strategic issues including making the most of HS2 with economic growth and job creation around the Birmingham city centre high speed rail terminus station at Curzon Street and an interchange station close to Birmingham Airport and the NEC.

Chamberlain Files begins a series of articles on Monday 10th February examining the performance of LEPs as they approach their third birthday.

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