Expansion East Kent fund is making huge strides for supporting SME firms

Editor’s Blog Posted 22/01/14
With more than £20 million delivered through the Regional Growth Fund's Expansion East Kent scheme, there is still £15 million to be claimed within the county.

This week I’ve been greatly enthused by seeing the impressive response that many SME firms within Kent have made to the £20 million (of a £35million allocation) that has so far been delivered through the Regional Growth Fund.

The Kent County Council administered Expansion East Kent scheme is clearly making a huge difference to many start-up ventures that have gained vital 0% interest loans through this project.

From firms operating commercial photographic drones, to tech and science operations based at Discovery Park, funding streams such as this have offered a genuine lifeline to many entrepreneurs who have been seeking a financial break.

In speaking to a number of companies at the event marking the 50th firm to have gained funding from this commendable initiative, one of its key benefits (beyond the sheer financing itself) has been in helping budding and established businesses focus on how they are going to remain competitive as we move out of recession.

It’s this very theme that was majored on by Kent County Council leader Paul Carter and Minister for cities, Greg Clark (MP for Tunbridge Wells pictured on the left of photo at the event held at Kent County Cricket ground in Canterbury), who both expressed their confidence in improvements witnessed in the county’s economy.

It was encouraging to hear them both acknowledge just how much hard work firms from within the county have put in to meet the demands of testing times.

There’s no doubt that many smaller enterprises have been hard-hit during the past fives years of recession, but I’ve been impressed by the level of resilience and determination of many businesses that I’ve encountered on my travels.

Across East and West Sussex, I’ve encountered a broad spectrum of firms that have painted a genuine picture of a semblance of normality returning to their trading environment. As they rightly pointed out though, there’s no room for complacency if we are to ensure the economy moves up through its gears.

Over in Surrey, the county council has just completed a study revealing that- two thirds of companies within its borders are anticipating growth over the next two years, so there is a genuine weight of optimism gathering across the region.

In the case of the Expansion East Kent fund, the message from the county council is pretty clear - there’s still a funding pool of £15million available for those with appropriate business plans. So here’s hoping that many more dozens of companies are able to make use of this much-needed initiative.

  • see full report in a forthcoming edition of South East Business

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