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£30m cash fund to help small firms

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

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Small businesses could be in line for a slice of £30 million of European cash.

If the county council's bid for the money is successful, it will be used to help firms across Lincolnshire grow. The council wants to inject the cash into creating sites and industrial units, green tourism and food production.

Broadband and rural development programmes are also on the list.

The council's head of enterprise, Justin Brown, said: "In helping businesses it could be small things like providing them with good quality office space, if they need it. It might be things like providing them with grants and loans or a good advice service.

"When you try and grow an economy, one of the things you do is help all of the businesses that are already here. We've got 18,000 VAT registered firms and if each of those create one job each, it's positive.

"It's about doing things differently and better.

Lincolnshire is one of a dozen counties that can apply for the cash from EU Transition Funding. If successful, it will be handed out in 2014 to fund initiatives up to 2020. The money would also help business innovation and rural areas could benefit from improved services.

The council says the schemes which attract cash will be administered by central government departments. This means it is vital that those handing out the cash, are aware of Lincolnshire's priorities.

Mr Brown said: "It needs to be relevant to our economy. There's a Government programme about helping the businesses who are going to grow the fastest. We've got to be realistic, so it's most likely to be manufacturing. These businesses make a heck of a contribution to the local economy.

"Between the council, the Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership and the district councils, we all work hard to understand what's happening locally and design projects to meet those needs."

The money is an estimate and the amount, along with whether it will happen, rests on a changeable, European financial climate.

The council is currently working to get the money ring fenced for Lincolnshire before compiling a detailed plan for what the money will be spent on.

The chief executive at Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, Simon Beardsley welcomed the news. He said: "It sounds like a great opportunity for Lincolnshire businesses. It is important to focus on Lincolnshire's priorities because the county is different to other parts of the country."

A decision will be made when the EU budget is set in spring 2013.

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