BOOMING new businesses backed by a local enterprise project have been visited by Caroline Dinenage.
The MP for Gosport went to find out how the scheme, which has attracted more than £1m of investment to the area, was going.
Bridging the Gap is a scheme run by The News, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Portsmouth, and allows businesses to apply for funding to improve their prospects, generate potential jobs and, in turn, boost the economy.
Kev Jones, 62, his wife Kath, 60, and son Andy are just one of the family businesses to have benefited from the fund. Their business, Kev Jones & Son, in Nobes Avenue, Gosport was awarded £45,750 from the fund, which allowed them to extend their existing convenience store.
Kev said: ‘This is an absolutely brilliant scheme and without it we would not have been able to upgrade for at least another three years.’
Sophie Davies, 18, from Gosport, was shopping in the improved store. She said: ‘The store is far more presentable now and it’s really nice that they have been able to open it up. It was a bit dark before but now it is really light and airy.’
Ms Dinenage praised the family for taking up the initiative.
She said: ‘This is fantastic. It’s like the small man fighting back against the corporate giants and showing that local knowledge and community spirit is the way forward. It’s a rebalancing of personal service.’
Helen Rawlins, 41, from Fluid Engineering, in Lees Lane, Gosport, also took advantage of the scheme. Her business was awarded £50,000, which was invested in new equipment.
She said: ‘Without the money we would have seriously struggled to get this whole project off the ground.’
Steve Reid, 47, and wife Georgina, 41, were awarded £15,000 to start up Blitz Photography, on Stoke Road.
Steve said: ‘The whole process of getting the funding meant that we had to look long and hard at our whole business plan. We based the plan on all the advice we got from Bridging the Gap, and have already been able to take on one apprentice.’
There is still £819,415 remaining in the fund. To apply go to solentlep.org.uk by Friday, October 18.