Scheme could lead to 5,000 new jobs
A £35 million grant scheme will be launched today aiming to create at least 5,000 new jobs in east Kent.
The Regional Growth Fund money was awarded by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
It will be used to provide grants and loans to businesses and social enterprises across Thanet, Dover, Shepway and Canterbury.
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter will announce details of the fund, now called Expansion East Kent, at a meeting at the Winter Gardens today.
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He told the Isle of Thanet Gazette: "This is a massively exciting opportunity. We have £35 million of public money to push forward into new business expansion. It is open to new and existing business. We are saying come and locate in Thanet."
Mr Carter warned that the criteria for getting a loan or grant was strict.
There will be several phases to distributing the cash, with businesses offered the chance to reapply for funding if they are not successful the first time.
KCC is covering the costs of administering the grants and advice in the pre-application stage will be available from partner organisations including the district councils, chamber of commerce and Federation of Small Businesses.
In total Expansion East Kent has won £40 million from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills' Regional Growth Fund.
Some £5 million has been set aside for improving the rail links between Ramsgate and Ashford to bring the journey time between Thanet and London to under an hour.
Mr Carter hopes the project will be complete in less than three years.
The remainder of the money is to be made available as grants and loans to firms.
Applications from business in any sector will be considered but Expansion East Kent has highlighted the scientific research and development, manufacturing and tourism heritage and culture as those which have the greatest strength for promoting jobs growth.
KCC will have the final say in which applications are successful.
It has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers to handle the initial applications and a panel of businesspeople from across Kent is also being constituted to guide the applications process.
Find out more inform-ation by logging on to www.kent.gov.uk/expansion or e-mailing expansioneast email@example.com
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