By Daniel Hunter
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has today (Thursday) announced £40 million to encourage jobs and growth in small and medium businesses, technology, science and infrastructure. This follows the publication today of the London Enterprise Panel's (LEP) strategy setting out a series of recommendations to keep the capital’s economy buoyant and competitive.
The £40 million package is designed to encourage private sector investment and will be targeted across areas identified by the LEP as being of strategic importance to London's economic growth.
The largest portion - £25 million - will be used to create a scheme to raise equity or loan finance for small and medium-sized businesses. With more than 800,000 SMEs in London, representing 50 per cent of all employment opportunities and £430billion of business turnover, the Mayor and the LEP have prioritised support for this important sector.
The remaining £15million is available for investment into the capital's science and technology sector or infrastructure. The Mayor is now calling for funding submissions which meet the LEP’s objectives. This is the second round of funds released to support the LEP’s work, which are designed to be revolving meaning money from the central fund is replenished as individual projects pay back their loans, creating the opportunity to issue other loans to new projects.
The Mayor announced the funding as he visited Gü Puds, owned by Noble Foods, on its 10th anniversary. Gü Puds is a London success story that has grown from a small enterprise with £100,000 of start-up money to a large household name with international sales of £80m, now exporting to 12 countries around the world. The company develops and produces all of its premium desserts in Walthamstow, with 90 per cent of its employees based in the capital.
"My top priority is to get London's economy moving and create jobs. Harnessing the expertise of the London Enterprise Panel, we have taken a forensic look at what type of support is needed to oil the wheels of enterprise in this city," The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said.
"Today’s fund, which will enable significant support for small and medium businesses, is just one way we are working to unlock potential and provide jobs for our growing city. I look forward to collaborating with the LEP as we champion further ways to ensure London retains its competitive edge among world cities."
The London Enterprise Panel (London’s Local Enterprise Partnership) has identified four priority areas to boost London's economy and cope with predicted skills needs. The LEP's Jobs and Growth Plan published today after months of consultations, contains a series of aims and recommendations. In summary, these cover the following areas:
• Raise skill levels and increase employment opportunities to ensure Londoners can compete for London’s job needs — recommendations include LEP funding for an apprentice campaign; working with employers to increase placements with a view to create 250,000 apprenticeships by 2015;
• Champion small and medium sized enterprises to support and grow businesses — includes LEP a commitment to increase SME exports; increase access to finance; identify workspace needs and explore affordable workspace options;
• Support digital, creative, science and technology sector to position the capital globally as a world leading hub — the LEP will encourage and incentivise collaboration across these sectors for example, through competitions and challenges; help entrepreneurs to market-test ideas; promote London’s world-beating universities and research base; attract major global science and technology events to the city; increase science and tech apprenticeships; lever European money;
• Encourage infrastructure investment into London to keep the city moving and functioning — LEP funding will support infrastructure projects; seek to promote globally London’s expertise in delivering infrastructure projects;
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