Group Lotus secures regional growth fund cash

Norfolk car company Group Lotus has secured millions of pounds of government funding which will help kickstart a major expansion of the Hethel-based firm.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has today announced 119 successful bids for the second round of regional growth fund (RGF) money.

Of the 201,000 jobs created or protected, around 37,000 will be directly created jobs, and more than 164,000 will be in the supply chain. The government investment will support nearly �6bn of private investment secured by the successful projects.

The RGF is a �1.4bn fund which is designed to encourage enterprise, growth and jobs in the private sector and support areas and communities that are dependent on the public sector. An expected 326,000 jobs will be created and safeguarded thanks to the fund.

Group Lotus previously failed to secure �30m from the government's regional growth fund which it wanted to help safeguard 390 jobs and create more than 1,000 new manufacturing posts.

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The firm's Malaysian owners, who were encouraged to submit a second reduced �10m loan bid, are believed to be looking to sink around �200m into a 10-year business plan to transform the company from a specialist niche car company into a profitable sports car brand, which would include rolling out an automated production line system.

The Hethel Engineering Centre would also be at the heart of the vision, becoming the firm's centre of applied research.

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Announcing the successful bids, Mr Clegg said: 'I am delighted to be able to announce this boost to business, which will jump start growth and create jobs that last in the places that really need it.

'This targeted support for businesses across the country allows them to expand and create jobs.

'It unlocks private sector investment – with at least �5 put in for every �1 of public money.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: 'We need to be doing all we can to enable businesses and organisations to create much needed jobs and inject private investment into the economy.

'We have announced today that a further 119 projects will benefit from the fund, and expect to deliver a huge number of jobs across their businesses and in the supply chain.

'This is a very significant boost to local communities, and the Regional Growth Fund will help businesses to drive local growth.'

Lord Heseltine, who chaired the independent panel which considered the bids, said: 'I'm confident that the exciting projects the government is supporting today will help rebalance the economy and help local areas thrive.

'The government's investment of �950m is supported by nearly �6bn of private investment, putting businesses firmly in control of their own economic future. The independent panel and I have been impressed by the creativity and innovative nature of these projects, and I look forward to following their progress.'

The successful bids are subject to legal checks before they can be awarded their final allocation of funding to establish whether the Government is confident that the organisations can deliver on the proposals in the bid and be agreed through contract. The government expects the money to start being passed on to the bidders in the spring.

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