Spark of hope as council's £20m fund could create 2,200 jobs
DERBY City Council is to spend £20 million on manufacturing and technology to boost employment and keep local firms at the cutting edge.
The authority believes the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund, to be launched next week, will help create 2,200 jobs.
Already, businesses are lining up to take part in the scheme. Vehicle engineers ASG, in Derby's London Road, hi-tech materials specialist Pentaxia, at the city's Ascot Business Park, and rail business RVEL, at RTC Business Park, are all looking at the fund with a view to invest and recruit next year.
The cash injection is expected to prompt a further £33 million investment from the private sector. It is hoped that the money will make Derby one of the most attractive areas in the country in which to do business.
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Council leader Paul Bayliss said: "What we are trying to do is invest in jobs in Derby, remove any barriers to jobs being created here and get the message out that Derby is open for business."
For every £30 from the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund, a business would have to invest £70.
Half of the £40 million Regional Growth Fund cash promised to Derby by the Government back in 2011 has been earmarked for the fund.
The money can be used to pay for research staff, equipment, patent costs, consultants, increasing export trade, training, buildings and land.
Mr Bayliss said: "In some respects it's a bit like a bank in that we want a return on our investment. We are not averse to taking risks and being entrepreneurial."
The money has to be spent by March 2015 and the first projects will begin early next year.
As previously reported by the Derby Telegraph, the overall aim for the Regional Growth Fund money is to create 2,200 jobs by 2020.
Bruce Allman, managing director of ASG, said: "We will potentially be investing more than £500,000 on machinery next year and that means more jobs so we'll certainly look at this."
Another business that stands to benefit is Pentaxia. Managing director Stephen Ollier said: "I think this fund is a really good idea and could act as a catalyst and help us grow much more quickly. In Germany, local government and industry work closely together in this way and there are mutual benefits."
Pentaxia, which manufactures composite components for planes and vehicles, expects to invest next year and take on as many as 20 people.
Rail engineering firm RVEL is hoping to make improvements to its premises to bring in more locomotives and increase its capacity, a move that would create up to 30 jobs.
The money would be made available in the form of grants, loans or risk capital.
Companies with turnover of under £250 million a year are eligible to apply.
Next week, a launch event is being held at the University of Derby's Enterprise Centre, in Bridge Street, to explain the scheme to businesses.
Scott Knowles, deputy chief executive of the Derby and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "The chamber regards this as a welcome development to help safeguard the city's long-term economic wellbeing."
The other £20 million of the Regional Growth Fund money has been set aside for developing the Global Technology Cluster business park, off Wilmore Road. Work on that is expected to begin next year.
John Forkin, director of Marketing Derby, said: "Derby already presents a strong case for investment but there is no doubt that the creation of incentives elsewhere, such as enterprise zones, will make the task of selling the city more difficult. That's why both the Derby Enterprise Growth Fund and the Global Technology Cluster will be very welcome and vital tools in our pitch to investors."
Companies considering getting involved in the scheme are urged to e-mail email@example.com, call 01332 641628 or visit the website www.derby.gov.uk/degf.