IT’S created hundreds of jobs and now nearly £2m is available to boost new business.
Companies are invited to apply for a share of £1.85m of funding through the next stage of the Bridging the Gap scheme, which is run by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.
Under the first rounds, close to £4m was allocated to support small and medium-sized businesses and new start-ups in the Solent area.
Business leaders gathered at the Marriott hotel in Portsmouth yesterday to discuss the project, which has seen 567 jobs created or safeguarded.
The funding is awarded by the Solent LEP to businesses across the Portsmouth and Southampton area to help bring in more jobs and improve growth.
Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, said: ‘It’s about building on the success of the scheme so far.
‘It gives businesses the opportunity to create the jobs and the prosperity that our region needs.
‘This is building on the success with a tried and tested reputation for creating jobs and creating growth. It can only go from strength to strength.’
Steve Futter, senior account manager for the Solent LEP, said has proven a great success. ‘It has been successful,’ he said. ‘The level of interest is massive. We have committed funding to 95 projects.
‘It’s a competitive process. We are funding the best of the best.
‘With a bit of work, a lot of those that haven’t been successful before could secure funding going forward.
‘What we want to see is some high quality applications coming in from any type of business.
‘The message is that this isn’t sector specific. Any business can apply.
‘If we get some strong applications off the back of this I’ll be pleased. ’
Andy Jones is managing director of Kev Jones & Son, a convenience store based in Bridgemary.
His family-run business received £45,000 in funding which was used to expand the building and employ four new members of staff.
He said: ‘It’s been a fantastic opportunity for a business like ours to grow.
‘We had the potential for our long term dream to become a short-term reality.
‘We can finally see a steady increase in turnover.
‘The future is promising. We have doubled the size of our store.
‘We’re incredibly grateful to the opportunity offered to us by the Bridging the Gap scheme.
‘We had to be very patient but the outcome was worth all the work.’