Lancashire businesses have been urged to bid for an £8million funding pot aimed at creating jobs in the county.
The Regional Growth Fund-supported Lancashire Business Growth Fund is a programme offering capital investment grants and international trade support to businesses across the county.
The programme has been launched by the county’s two accredited chambers of commerce – East Lancashire and North and Western Lancashire – in partnership with Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, and is intended to create 600 new jobs and safeguard a further 200.
Its key aim is to accelerate the creation of sustainable jobs by encouraging companies to bring forward growth projects on a bigger scale with a larger impact at a time when those jobs are most needed.
Businesses bidding for grants from the scheme can claim up to 20 per cent of the total project costs, with the remaining costs leveraged from the bank or investment.
To be eligible for the programme, projects must involve the acquisition of new premises, infrastructure, machinery, expansion, or another suitable form of capital investment.
Businesses are also required to demonstrate how many jobs will be created through the project in order to be accepted on to the scheme.
The programme also has a fully-funded International Trade Support element to give companies that are looking to grow internationally tailored support to achieve their goals.
Mandy Lockett, programme manager and international business director of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is excellent news and welcome recognition by Government of the value, capability and potential of Lancashire’s industry.
“It will allow eligible businesses with ambition to grow to unlock and bring forward investment in machinery and premises that will help create jobs and add to the nation’s wealth.
“The Chambers have a strong history of partnership working, this programme being part of the wider Lancashire Enterprise Partnership strategy for encouraging private sector growth and complimenting business support packages available through local authorities and the Lancashire Business Growth Hub.”
North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce deputy chief executive Hugh Evans, who is leading the project for the Chamber, said: “Many businesses have aspirations to grow and expand but simply cannot find the cash they need to do so.
“This programme is the answer for those firms who can use these grants to help finance new machinery, new premises or whatever it is they need to grow their business.
“This money is only on offer for two years, so we need companies in Lancashire to take advantage of it otherwise we will have to send whatever goes unspent back to the Government.
“And if you are sat wondering whether or not your project is suitable for this fund, speak to somebody at the Chamber who can help you decide the best way forward.”