By Daniel Hunter

Grow For It in East Kent, a campaign to drive inward investment and support growing businesses, brought East Kent to the capital on Tuesday, with a showcase event at London Stock Exchange.

The Business Minister, Michael Fallon, spoke in support of the campaign as £1.54m was awarded to East Kent businesses in interest-free loans via the Regional Growth Fund, as part of Expansion East Kent’s £35m programme.

The latest round of funding was awarded by Expansion East Kent, which has distributed a total of £5m to date in order to boost business and create 5,000 jobs in the region.

The Grow For It campaign officially opened the day’s market trading at London Stock Exchange and was unveiled to an audience of private sector investors and entrepreneurs. The event included keynote speeches from the Business Minister, Michael Fallon; Doug Richard, founder of School for Startups; and Marcus Stuttard, head of AIM, London Stock Exchange’s international market for smaller growing companies.

The event highlighted in particular the major opportunities for businesses in the biotech and life sciences sector, with Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet; Paul Barber, MD of Discovery Park, the major R&D facility in Sandwich; and Simon Westbrook, former Pfizer scientist turned biotech entrepreneur, taking part in a panel discussion.

The recipients of Expansion East Kent funding (via the Regional Growth Fund) included:

· Algaecytes, a private research company founded by world-leading bio-scientists: £500,000 loan, creating 20 full-time jobs.
· Flying Fish Hovercraft, aiming to expand overseas and invest in R&D to treble workforce within three years: £156,156 loan, creating 32 full-time jobs.
· Baines Bigg and Hyman, a new live music venue, rehearsal space and bar: £40,000 loan, creating 3 full-time, 14 part-time jobs
· Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate, which aims to expand occupancy and facilities in the Grade-2 listed building: £500,000 loan, creating 22 full-time jobs
· South East Bottling JV, a joint-venture to start a new contract beer bottling facility: £170,000 loan, creating 6 full-time jobs
· Cuisine Frozen Foods, a manufacturing unit to produce ready meals for major retail customers: £176,000 loan, creating 64 full-time jobs

The Grow for It campaign aims to promote East Kent’s unrivalled connectivity to mainland Europe, excellent value for money offering, and plentiful access to business support and funding.

It focuses on four key industry sectors; tourism, creative and digital, biotechnology and life sciences andgreen technology.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

“East Kent is out in front as an area that is delivering on the potential of the Regional Growth Fund. I have had the chance to see for myself innovative, world-leading manufacturing companies such as HV Wooding and Aeromet, which are benefiting from the Regional Growth Fund to grow and create new jobs.

“The region has the drive, resourcefulness and companies to thrive in the coming years, and demonstrates why it’s so important that areas such as East Kent are given the influence to determine their own economic future.”

Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, said:

“Grow for It is about encouraging existing businesses and new investment in East Kent, so it is crucial that we tell the story about the outstanding opportunities that are on offer to a national audience.

“London Stock Exchange offered the perfect venue to lift the lid on what East Kent has to offer entrepreneurs and investors, and we were delighted to be able to mark the occasion with Grow for It opening the day’s trading.

“Through Expansion East Kent we are getting funding and support to businesses that are growing to create new jobs, while Grow for It is showing the world why East Kent is an ideal place to do business.”

Duncan Sambrook, co-founder of South East Bottling JV said:

“When I was looking for the ideal place in the south east to locate a new bottling facility, East Kent stood out from the crowd.

“With suitable property at excellent prices and a skilled local workforce to recruit from, not to mention the funding on offer from Expansion East Kent, Ramsgate makes complete sense for me and my business partners.”

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