Business Secretary Vince Cable has urged West Midlands firms to bid for a share of the Government’s £2.4 billion Regional Growth Fund, after he launched a third round of grants.
Up to £1 billion is on offer in the current round of funding after firms such as Jaguar Land Rover received a share of £1.4 billion awarded in the first two rounds of bidding last year.
Dr Cable said: “I would urge business in the West Midlands to bid for the new funding being made available and am looking forward to seeing even more high quality applications from across the region.”
He also highlighted the potential benefits for industry from the Birmingham Post Business Growth Fund, which was previously awarded £5 million from the Regional Growth Fund.
The minimum bid to the fund itself is £1 million, potentially excluding many smaller businesses. But the Birmingham Post, in partnership with Bournville College, has stepped in to distribute money from the fund in much smaller packages, allowing small and medium sized enterprises to benefit.
The Trinity Mirror Midlands – Birmingham Post Business Growth Fund will provide funding of £10,000 to £100,000 to small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups in the Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry areas that are able to provide up to 50 per cent match funding.
It is managed by Bournville College and the firms supported will be provided with a mentor, as well as skills assessment and training. A panel including senior figures from the business and academic communities will assess bids.
Craig Cooksley, Regional Commercial Advertising Manager for Trinity Mirror Midlands, the Birmingham Post’s publishers, said: “We hope to be able to encourage our first round of applicants during the second quarter of 2012.
“The Birmingham Post has received a lot of very positive feedback and we have already been approached by some interesting organisations wanting to expand and create jobs in the region, including organisations that currently manufacture abroad and would like to return to the UK.”
Norman Cave, Principal of Bournville College said: “We are really pleased to be managing a high profile and exciting initiative.
“Through this grants scheme we want to provide a much needed lifeline to innovative small businesses and enterprises to enable them to grow and prosper in difficult times and provide a structure for creating real jobs an training to meet their specific needs.”
Mr Cable said: “I am encouraged to see that projects, such as the Birmingham Post Business Growth Fund, are now receiving the funds needed to get under way.
“This project will make a real difference for small and medium sized enterprises in Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry by providing them with the finance they need to start and grow.”
While the Birmingham Post scheme is designed to allow small and medium sized firms to access funding, firms can also bid directly to the Regional Growth Fund itself for a share of the round three funding, after the Government pumped an extra £1 billion into the scheme,
But Labour said many of the businesses promised cash in previous rounds had not yet received the money. Shadow Business Minister Gordon Marsden said: Before boasting about new rounds of the Growth Fund, the Government needs to get a grip and sort out the delays which have plagued this progress.
“Firms up and down the country need real help now, so ministers must act to get the Regional Growth Fund money out of the door to the hard pressed businesses who have been waiting months while BIS has been sleeping at the wheel.”
Delays in awarding funding have been caused by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills conducting due diligence on successful bids. So far, 48 of the successful firms from the first two rounds of the fund have completed their legal checks and have access to the funding.
* More information on bidding directly from the regional Growth Fund is available at www.bis.gov.uk/rgf. Details of how to bid to the Birmingham Post Business Growth Fund will be published soon.