Norfolk, Suffolk and north Cambridgeshire gets millions to create jobs in latest Regional Growth Fund round

Davina Tanner at Chapelfield mall in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Davina Tanner at Chapelfield mall in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012

Millions of pounds is set to come to Norfolk, Suffolk and north Cambridgeshire in a bid to boost businesses and create jobs, the government will announce today.

Schemes put forward by the New Anglia and Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough local enterprise partnerships (Leps) will receive a total of £12.2m in the latest allocation from the government's Regional Growth Fund pot.

The already-established New Anglia Growing Business Fund – which offers grants for business expansion of between £25,000 and £100,000 – will be given an extra £9m, while a new Eastern England Agri-Tech Growth Initiative, which is expected to create 500 jobs and 25 businesses, has been awarded £3.2m.

The agri-initiative hopes to bring together existing world-class crop and food research, technology, engineering and manufacturing between Cambridge and Norwich with the agricultural land and production capabilities in north Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Norfolk, the Fens and parts of Suffolk.

The cash will be used to provide loans for small firms, to help boost skills and ensure technology developed at institutions like the Norwich Research Park can create businesses based in the region.

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More than 120 businesses have already lodged interest in the existing New Anglia Growing Business Fund, with many in the process of turning initial expressions of interest into full applications.

The first group of applicants are due to be considered by the Growing Business Fund independent assessment panel later this month.

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Davina Tanner, the New Anglia Lep board member responsible for the Growing Business Fund scheme, said the organisation had been really pleased with the level of interest and said the expansion of the scheme would make a real difference.

Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for econo-mic development, added: 'This funding will provide a welcome boost to local businesses, helping them to develop and grow during what has been a difficult financial climate.

'We know that 140 businesses in Ipswich and Lowestoft have already expressed an interest in this fund, and now businesses from across the rest of Suffolk can apply and benefit from this fantastic opportunity.'

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