Now is a crucial time to act if the East Midlands is to put in bids for a share of the government’s Regional Growth Fund.
That’s the message from Elly Fletcher, associate at leading economic development firm, Focus Consultants.
The North West and North East of the UK swept up in the first two funding rounds of the RGF, with cities like Liverpool and Leeds attracting multimillion pound investments.
Now, with the opening of the third bidding round and a further £1b of funding available, the East Midlands is hoping to take its share of the cash.
“RGF offers big money – £1m minimum investments into projects that promise, first and foremost, to create jobs,” said Elly. “In fact it’s all about jobs and money – the more private sector jobs and investment the better for RGF. Government wants to see the private sector mobilising itself to create ‘economic growth and sustainable employment’. “
Focus Consultants, which has offices in Leicester, Nottingham, Lincoln, Boston and London, has an economic development and funding team that works to secure grants for projects.
Elly (pictured) believes there are a number of issues that businesses and partnership teams bidding for the latest RGF funding should consider to maximise the current opportunity.
“Projects that can show a direct and positive impact on the local economy will stand the best chance with the government panel,” she said. “If you can demonstrate that your project will create lots of jobs and act as a catalyst to attract significant private sector investment, you will certainly be in a good place.
“RGF is all about local economic growth, so it is important bids demonstrate and react to the specific needs of the local area. Bids should be framed around a case for support – why is RGF needed here? Think local and consider the future impacts.
“RGF funding needs to be committed and spent by 2015 so if you have a project ready to go that you think fits the fund criteria and is in an advanced state of development, you could have a strong chance of success. It’s important to be realistic, however. Yes, this is a big pot of cash but projects must bring with them large sums of private sector investment – ideally a 6:1 ratio. Don’t invest time and energy in putting a bid together if you can see no route through to the private sector match.”
But with the deadline of June 13th for bids fast approaching, businesses and partnerships in the East Midlands are being urged to act now.
“In today’s economic climes, with economic development funds few and far between, RGF is without doubt an opportunity to be taken seriously,” said Elly.
Focus Consultants specialises in creative approaches to securing funding packages and delivering high quality projects across the UK.
Since its creation in 1994, Focus has secured over £800 million of grant assistance, and delivered more than £1b of projects and programmes – including enterprise support, innovation, culture, health, regeneration, affordable homes and energy carbon sustainability projects.