West Midlands LEPs announce new finance programme

WLEP Peter Pawsey 2Six Local Enterprise Partnerships in the West Midlands have agreed to join together to create a major investment fund worth at least £125m, expected to create or safeguard 9,000 jobs and help 400 new businesses to start up.

The Regional Investment Fund will provide a range of programmes to support growing businesses in Worcestershire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, the Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, and  Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP areas.

Each LEP is due to receive an allocation from the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) to support various work in supporting businesses for 2014 and 2020.

As part of the agreement reached by the six LEPs, each will contribute money from their ESIF into a central fund worth more than £50m.  This will enable the LEPs to access an estimated further £75m, creating a £125m Regional Investment Fund to provide a suite of access to finance programmes that may include loans for small businesses, loan guarantees, seed corn equity, growth equity, mezzanine finance as well as finance for innovation and low carbon businesses.

It is expected the funds to be supported by the Regional Investment Fund will be ready to go from next year.

Worcestershire LEP Executive Chair Peter Pawsey said: “This is excellent news for businesses in Worcestershire and right across the West Midlands and will provide a wide range of funds to help small and medium-sized enterprises that are looking to grow and create jobs.

“By working together and pooling our resources in this way, we will be able to make an even greater impact by leveraging in private sector investment.

“As a result, we will be able to help even more businesses of various sizes with targeted support and finance.

“Although there is still significant work to be done to set up the mechanisms to deliver these funds to businesses, by reaching this agreement we have taken a huge step forward.”