The recession saw reluctance by banks to lend and by companies to get agreement to risk their own funds to expand.
It was under these conditions that the Humber LEP attracted £30m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund a year ago, creating the Growing the Humber Programme designed to unlock business growth projects that have the potential for job creation.
The Humber programme, launched by Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon in February 2013, is helping to bring some stalled projects to life, and as confidence to invest has increased, so have the expressions of interest and applications to the fund.
One year on and hundreds of businesses have expressed an interest and we have supported 140 companies to make a full application for grants ranging from £20k to £2.5m to help local businesses to grow and help companies to invest in a base in the area.
As chair of the Humber LEP’s Investment Board it’s gratifying to see projects get underway. We have met regularly to assess projects looking for those that can quickly deliver tangible economic outcomes, through providing additional investment.
We oversee the processes for administering Growing the Humber Fund and receive support from accountable body North East Lincolnshire Council.
Already more than 45 businesses are in contract, drawing down £6.7m in grants, leveraging a further £33.8m of investment, creating 565 jobs. These numbers are increasing daily with dozens more companies due to go into contract in the coming weeks.
Great partnership work with North East Lincolnshire Council, and the three other local councils – Hull City Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council are at the heart of the success of the scheme.
As well as providing jobs and demonstrating a confidence to invest in the Humber, the benefits to the community from the Growing the Humber projects also include a number of buildings being purchased and renovated or being brought back into use, as well as benefits to local suppliers to the expanding businesses.
For example Rofin Sinar, which exports touch screen products to the Far East, was awarded £1.3m attracting an additional £3.9m investment from its parent company. This meant that production that could have moved abroad will instead be established in a new site in the Humber.
The project will also fund research and development and plant to produce lasers that can cut through touchscreen glass more quickly and cost effectively, creating 57 manufacturing and engineering jobs. The new factory will be complete by the end of November 2014.
The fund has also helped Grimsby, the closest port to 80 per cent of the North Sea Offshore wind farms, further strengthen its position as an operations and maintenance base.
DONG Energy benefitted from the South Bank Renewables strand of the Growing the Humber fund using the £1.1m as part of an £11m investment in Grimsby Docks creating an initial 100 jobs.
Some projects are at the smaller end of the scale. Grimsby based Red Herring Games, which develops Murder Mystery games ranging from dinner parties to large organised events, is using its £23K grant to buy and refurbish premises in Grimsby.
There is still chance for businesses to bid for funding which was recently boosted by £1m from the LEP’s business growth programme as part of the Hull and Humber City Deal.
• The Growing the Humber programme includes £27m of Business Improvement Grants available to businesses across the Humber area to grow, with £7m of the funding ring-fenced to support the renewables industry in North and North East Lincolnshire.
To download an expression of interest form visit www.humberlep.org/growingthehumber
If you are a Humber business that feels you may have a project that fits the bill, call our team on 01482 485260 or email [email protected]