BUSINESS leaders from companies and organisations across the Solent region have been deciding how to spend £36m of European money.
The money has come from the European Union, and 120 delegates from organisations in the public and voluntary sectors met at the National Museum of the Royal Navy within Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to decide what to do with it.
The event was organised by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership as part of a consultation to help develop a strategy on how the money will be spent over the next seven years.
As previously reported in The News, the Solent LEP wanted as many businesses and organisations from the area to come forward and join in with the process.
Anne-Marie Mountifield, Solent LEP chief executive, said: ‘This is exactly the kind of involvement from local businesspeople and the public sector in the delivery of funding in the Solent that the LEP was created to deliver.
‘We had a fantastic turnout of local people keen to influence how this money is spent to best effect in our region.
‘The feedback we received is precisely what we need to deliver a targeted programme of investment that tackles the Solent’s issues and promotes growth.’
The event came hot on the heels of a similar meeting held at the Ageas Bowl for those businesses based towards the western side of the Solent LEP catchment area.
The money from the EU Structural and Investment Fund is designed to drive growth in the region between 2014 and 2020.
Delegates discussed where they thought the money would be best spent across a range of sectors including investing in and raising skill levels, helping develop and support small and medium-sized enterprises, funding innovation, encouraging firms to commit to low carbon ways of working, boosting employment, investing in information technology and helping to promote social inclusion.
The debate produced a wide range of views and opinions, which will now be collated by the LEP and used to inform production of the strategy.