£35m pot launched to benefit businesses
BUSINESS whizzes from Thanet can apply for a slice of a £35 million government cash bonanza.
The Regional Growth Fund will be used to offer interest-free loans to companies looking to expand.
Launched on Friday at a breakfast meeting at the Winter Gardens in Margate, Expansion East Kent aims to create at least 5,000 jobs.
The fund will be administered by Kent County Council with advice from business leaders across the county, and internationally.
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The main areas identified for help are digital business, pharmaceutical research and development, renewable energy and tourism – but no reasonable application will be thrown out without consideration.
KCC leader Paul Carter said: "We will consider creative bids that don't fit the application. We want to unlock the greatest potential, not just stick to the tried and tested."
He also pledged that the application process, to be managed by London-based business consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, would not take a long time, with a decision within 40 working days.
Expansion East Kent applied for money from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills following the announcement by Pfizer that it was shutting its research and development base at Sandwich with the loss of about 2,400 jobs in February this year.
The firm has since announced it will keep a smaller workforce at the site which is now branded an Enterprise Park and is already home to some smaller pharmaceutical development companies.
The grant money is part of a £40 million pot for east Kent – Canterbury, Shepway, Dover and Thanet.
The other £5 million has been set aside to pay for improvements to the high speed line between Ashford and Ramsgate, bringing journey times between Thanet and the capital down to an hour.
To find out more about the grants go to www.kent.gov.uk/businesses