Call to give firms a clearer view of funding landscape

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A LEADING Yorkshire financier has called for the creation of a simpler and more efficient “funding landscape” to help companies create jobs.

Alex McWhirter, chief executive of Finance Yorkshire, made the comments as he reviewed a “busy and constructive year” in which a number of small firms from Yorkshire have managed to defy the recession by delivering strong growth. Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium-sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth.

The project is supported by the European Union, the Government and the European Investment Bank.

Mr McWhirter said: “There are numerous sources of finance available to owner managers, but this landscape of funding lacks cohesion, and faced with such confusion, they tend to approach the likes of banks and friends to secure finance. This must change in order for the UK economy to grow. Hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses have found additional gap funding with support from organisations such as Finance Yorkshire, but more needs to be done to enable thousands to access all forms of finance in a simple and efficient way.

“The key priorities for the year ahead should be developing greater cohesion, untangling the financial landscape and taking a leap of faith by making more investments.

“If we achieve these I am certain it will lead to one thing – sustainable economic growth and prosperity across Yorkshire and Humber.”

In September, Finance Yorkshire provided investment to its 200th SME (small and medium-sized enterprise). Mr McWhirter added: “By November we had invested more than £30m in SMEs in Yorkshire and Humber. And we’ve now taken the amount of funding provided to businesses to more than £32.5m.

“We’ve achieved all of this in just over two years, which is rewarding and demonstrates that we are making a difference.

“We said at the beginning of this year that the key for us was to increase our investment rate and I am pleased to say we have managed to do that despite the difficult economic conditions.

“A total of 280 investments have been completed, creating and safeguarding more than 5,190 jobs and generated a private sector leverage of more than £56m.”

Mr McWhirter said that the year’s highlights included the £1.29m equity linked investment in Turbine Efficiency Group, which supplies and maintains gas turbines around the world.

He added: “This is our largest deal to date and has enabled the company to open a new 4,000 sq ft facility in Doncaster to expand its services and global operations.”