The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has launched its next round of opportunities for its Growing Places Fund (GPF). This fund aims to unlock economic growth and help kick start development at stalled sites across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock.
GPF works as a recycled capital loan scheme, regenerating funds based on the repayment schedules agreed for existing funded projects. To date, a total of £54.4m has been invested in 21 projects across the South East from an original pot of £49.2m, which has grown thanks to the recyclable nature of the fund.
Among the projects that have already been supported by GPF is the Bexhill Business Mall, to which SELEP supplied £6m in funding for the delivery of the new 2,490sq m retail space that created 300 new jobs and was earmarked to provide support for up to 60 small, high-growth businesses.
In 2018, SELEP approved an £800,000 loan towards the £8.4m conversion of the Fitted Rigging House, a Grade I-listed building at Chatham Historic Dockyard. The project helped to retain 300 jobs in Medway and saw 3,473sq m of office space be created for three growing companies.
GPF also provided £1.4m towards the £3.5m Grays Magistrates Court project, which saw the refurbishment and conversion of the court building into office and small business accommodation, creating around 11,600sq ft of commercial floorspace as part of the regeneration of Grays town centre.
SELEP is calling on businesses, Local Authorities and other partners in the area to bid for between £250,000 and £3.5m for their projects, which will be prioritised based on the assessment criteria for the available funding.(link) The total amount of funding through GPF currently available for reinvestment is £20.724m, of which £15.595 will be available in 2020/21 and a further £5.129m in 2021/22.
Christian Brodie, chair of SELEP, said: “We are excited to launch this call for projects today, we have had some excellent projects in the past which have made a real difference to their local areas. The Growing Places Fund has already supported more than 21 projects since its inception in 2011, and this latest round provides another opportunity for the South East LEP to kick start projects which may not otherwise be moving forward due to the uncertain economic climate.
“The Growing Places Fund’s self-sustaining nature allows us to continue supporting businesses across the area for a number of years, and in a wide variety of sectors. We are very excited to see what the latest round brings.”
Companies wishing to submit their project for funding from the GPF have until the 18th October 2019 to make initial contact with the appropriate lead officer for their Federated Area to inform them of their intention to make a bid, with the relevant contact details available here.
The deadline for submissions for this round of GPF funding is the 1st November 2019.