The Harrogate District and Wetherby area could both be in line for a share of £340m in funding to support business growth and create better jobs over the next seven years.
The money is to be made available by the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) programme that has just been launched by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership. Harrogate District and the Wetherby area are both included within the Leeds City Region, and the LEP is the first in the country to launch its ESIF programme.
The first wave of calls, which are now open, will help small and medium-sized businesses in the City Region get support to become more innovative, grow and trade internationally, as well as create much-needed support for start-up businesses.
The City Region’s European funding settlement is in addition to the £1bn-plus Growth Deals the LEP has secured in the past year, providing a significant boost for SME growth, skills, transport, housing and energy efficiency.
Speaking at an event for over 250 local partners, Roger Marsh, chairman of the Leeds City Region ESIF Committee and of the LEP, praised the hard work of all partners in getting the programme off the ground and evidenced the scale of opportunity and ambition to further economic growth for the prosperity of all.
He said: “After 18 months of hard work and consultation with our partners, our strong vision for extraordinary economic growth is now moving into delivery.
“I am delighted we are the first LEP in the country to meet with stakeholders and promote these funding opportunities and demystify the process for organisations looking to bid for funds and work with the LEP on delivering programmes that will create jobs and growth.”
“If you accumulate all of our funding secured at a City Region level, including all of the ESIF funds, we now have control of close to £2bn to deliver good growth in this region. This puts us in a strong position to fulfil our ambition of transforming our economy into a net contributor to UK growth, creating jobs and prosperity for people in our region and the nation.”
The launch of the programme follows the submission of the LEP’s ESIF strategy in January 2014, which resulted in a £338m allocation to deliver projects across nine thematic objectives.
The programmes’ key objectives are based on local priorities as outlined in the City Region’s Strategic Economic Plan. These include support for growing small and medium sized enterprises including small and micro rural businesses; developing a skilled and flexible workforce; creating a low carbon economy and delivering the infrastructure for growth including investment in broadband.
Local Growth Minister Lord Ahmad said: “Local partners and organisations will play a key role in determining the priorities for directing this money to where it will be best used for ensuring growth and innovation across our local communities.
“This new round of funding will help many new and growing businesses to create jobs that will benefit the wider local area and the economy in general.”