Canterbury 4 Business

Published: 01-11-2011

Multi-million pound boost for Kent jobs and business

Kent County Council has today received the green light from Government for its £40 million bid to drive new jobs and business growth in East Kent, with a further significant investment announced for Vestas in Sheerness which will boost jobs in renewable energy.

This follows the announcement by the Deputy Leader Nick Clegg earlier today of £950 million to help create and safeguard more than 200,000 jobs across England through the Government's Regional Growth Fund.

Leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, welcomed the news:

"In tough economic times, this is a magnificent boost for East Kent and for the whole of the county.  

"We designed an ambitious proposal for East Kent to support and expand local business and create an environment conducive to inward investment with the ambition of creating or safeguarding in the order of 5,000 jobs.

"Following the Pfizer announcement to exit its site back in February, we've left no stone unturned in looking at new ways to support business growth and jobs in East Kent.

"With banks restricting lending and credit for business expansion extremely tough to access, we've  bid to Government with Dover, Canterbury, Shepway and Thanet Councils and succeeded in delivering a fund for local businesses which could create and safeguard around 5,000 jobs.

"With a focus on supporting existing businesses to expand and new businesses to be created around life sciences and greentech industries, this very much  builds on our work to market and promote the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone in Sandwich and will have an impact across the whole of East Kent.  

"We will be inviting firms to apply for funding which will enable their businesses to grow and bring new and exciting job opportunities for local people with details to be announced as soon as our proposals are endorsed by central government.

"The funding is also designed to support business critical infrastructure, such as high speed rail enhancements from Ashford to coastal East Kent, to cut journey times to and from London and to encourage and drive new investment and business relocation.

"It's a massive vote of confidence in the work of the Sandwich Economic Development Task Force, which has worked so hard to address job losses from the exit of Pfizer and to promote the opportunity of Discovery Park."

Mr Carter continued:

"We are also delighted that Vestas is to be the recipient of additional Regional Growth Fund investment.

"KCC has worked hard with Vestas in recent months to secure their investments in the manufacture and assembly of the next generation of wind turbines in Sheerness."

Chief executive of Kent’s inward investment agency Locate in Kent, Paul Wookey, said:

“This is really good news for east Kent. With Enterprise Zone status for Discovery Park at Sandwich already granted, the area now has a really attractive package to offer companies looking to invest in the area, or already based there.

“The previous grant regime in East Kent was extremely popular, helping many companies invest and grow in the area, so we expect this new scheme to help create significant new investment and jobs for east Kent.

“It means that companies taking advantage of the Enterprise Zone status to move to Discovery Park could also get grant aid to help buy equipment or machinery. With the RGF funding covering a large area in the east of the county, it can only be good news for job creation and the economic regeneration of Kent as a whole.”

Welcoming the bid's success, chief executive of tourism-promotion body Visit Kent, Sandra Matthews-Marsh, said:

"This is tremendous news for East Kent. And we must all congratulate the team that put this strong bid together. It really deserved to succeed.

“Tourism in East Kent contributes more than £835 million to the local economy and supports almost 18,000 jobs.

"People across the tourism sector have the drive and the enthusiasm. What they need is investment, as well as access to grants and loans, to help take their ideas to market and develop their tourism offer and create new jobs. This Regional Growth Funding is a very rare opportunity to make a real difference to this part of our county, to create new jobs and build our economy.

“At Visit Kent, working closely with the industry and other partners, we have the expertise and knowledge in place to help tourism, leisure and hospitality businesses grow. We are all set to deliver the training, the marketing partnerships, the quality accreditation and the advice these businesses need to succeed."


Notes to editors

  • When the funding has been made available businesses with investment proposals to create jobs in East Kent will be able to apply for grants through the "Expansion East Kent" scheme.  

  • These proposals will need to have private sector funding. KCC is working closely with the banks so that Expansion East Kent will help unlock their investment.

  • More information on how businesses can apply and how Expansion East Kent will work in detail will be available soon.   

  • Bids will go through due diligence before we can start awarding monies.

  • The programme will be available up to 2014.

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