By Max Clarke

Over 100,000 new jobs will be created and safeguarded under Government plans announced today by the Deputy Prime Minister to invest £450m in businesses across England.

The first round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) will see an expanded amount of public investment support 50 bids by companies and partnerships who demonstrated how they would create jobs and a high level of private sector-led sustainable economic growth in their local communities over the coming years.

The Government expects over 27,000 jobs to be directly created and safeguarded, with close to a further 100,000 jobs in associated supply chains and local economies.

The second round of the fund opens to bids today, Tuesday April 12. This round will aim to allocate the remainder of the fund, approximately £1bn.

The £450m being invested by the Government through the first round of the RGF is expected to leverage more than £2.5bn of private sector investment.

The RGF is a £1.4bn fund which is designed to encourage enterprise, growth and jobs in the private sector and support areas and communities that are dependent on the public sector.

”I am delighted to announce the first successful bids for the Regional Growth Fund,” said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. “I was bowled over by the quality of the bids. This money will now help create and safeguard jobs in some of the communities worst hit by the economic downturn.

“Today is a step towards rebalancing our economy away from an unhealthy overreliance on a small number of industries and a few areas. We need to spread opportunity across the whole country, drawing on our many talents. I know that with the right support these businesses can work with their communities and together play their part in leading the country back into prosperity.”

“Supporting job creation in the regions is vital if we are to drive growth in our local communities,” said Business Secretary Vince Cable.

“We have received a large number of ambitious and highly competitive bids to this first round of the Regional Growth Fund, which will help a number of businesses across the country to expand and create thousands of new jobs.

“The Regional Growth Fund is a competitive fund and we wanted to see proposals that created jobs in the private sector, in areas of deprivation and that is at risk of suffering from public sector cuts. I’m confident that the successful bids we have chosen will deliver on this.”

Lord Heseltine, chair of the Independent Advisory Panel, said:

“I believe the £450m of Regional Growth Fund announced today, which levers in around £2.5bn of private sector investment, supports projects delivering real jobs to real people on the ground now. They show government is getting actively behind the private sector to rebalance our economy.

“That is why I am also pleased that a number of high street banks are joining the Government in supporting microfinance through the Community Development Finance Associations. £30m of Regional Growth Fund will be matched by a further £30m from two banks. In addition we are in detailed discussion with the high street banks over options for schemes to get additional finance to small businesses in economically vulnerable parts of England. We want to develop effective mechanisms to support growing small businesses and small projects through the Regional Growth Fund.”

The following are examples of projects that have been given conditional allocations of funding:

– the Haribo factory going ahead with planned expansion of its site near Wakefield, safeguarding the existing factory;

– the development of a former eye hospital in Manchester into a biomedical centre of excellence, which will receive match funding through the European Regional Development Fund as well;

– General Motors in Luton announced recently that the next generation Vivaro van will be built at its plant in Luton, safeguarding around 1,500 jobs, helped by a conditional RGF allocation;

– construction of a manufacturing plant on the Lotte Chemical site in Teesside to develop resins for food and drink packaging;

– opening the Gateway to the Sheffield City Region – construction of a link road to facilitate wider housing, industrial and commercial development south of Doncaster; and

– development of a new factory, R&D laboratory and HQ office facility for Holroyd Precision Ltd in Rochdale.

After considering the large number of high quality bids submitted to round one, ministers decided to allocate more than £450m in this round rather than the £250m originally foreseen, to ensure the benefits to the economy are realised as quickly as possible.

A more detailed breakdown of the total bids received to the first round of the fund is available on the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills website. Also available on the website is a regional breakdown of where the bids came from and their total value.

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