THE first cash from a £1.9m fund to boost business has been awarded to help firms in this area grow and create jobs.
Earlier this year The News and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership vowed to give away £1.9m in funding.
Today, the first two beneficiaries of our Bridging the Gap fund have been announced by business minister Vince Cable.
Waterlooville’s Cobra Precision Engineering and Southsea’s Elite Care Services have been handed £50,000 each from the fund, which got its money from the government’s Regional Growth Fund.
Mr Cable was in Portsmouth yesterday as part of a visit to see how his growth fund money is being put to use.
And he praised the work being done locally to get the cash to the firms it could help the most.
Simon Stevens, director for Cobra, said the firm would be adding around £340,000 to buy new machines, recruit four people, refurbish the factory in Aston Road, and upgrade software.
He said: ‘This money has allowed us to grow about two years ahead of schedule.
‘Without it, the growth would have happened, we hope, but fundamentally it’s brought it forward.’
For Elite, the cash has helped the firm expand its premises and provide more space to train healthcare workers.
Carol Morris, chief executive of the family firm in Clarendon Road, said the jobs the money will help create are ‘endless’.
She added: ‘We complete on the old Strand pub next door today, and it will mean we have two larger training facilities so we can get more people in at one time. We train people from scratch, and there are jobs for them out there for them.’
Mr Cable also announced £1.23m in funding for Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust for two projects within the historic dockyard.
The first is £750,000 for a Cell Block enterprise project, which aims to create more than 440 jobs. The second is £475,000 to be put towards the new International Boatbuilding Training College, to be built at Boatshed 4.
Peter Goodship, the trust’s consultant chief executive, said: ‘We are delighted to have secured RGF funding for the Cell Block and Boathouse 4 International Boatbuilding Training College projects, and we are pleased that the government recognises that the south east is just as much in need of help as other areas of the country.