Lee-on-the-Solent enterprise zone gets £2.94m cash injection

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BUSINESS received another boost yesterday with the announcement of a £2.94m cash injection for the region.

The money aims to attract businesses to the new Solent Enterprise Zone in Lee-on-the-Solent.

It comes on top of a £2.1m Bridging the Gap grant which will be spread between small and medium-sized firms in Portsmouth, Havant and Gosport to help create jobs and support business growth.

The money for both schemes has come from the department of Business, Innovation and Skills through its £2.4bn Regional Growth Fund.

Also announced was a pot of £500,000 from the National Apprenticeship Service, which will create 300 apprenticeships locally.

The announcements were made at the launch of Bridging the Gap at the Lakeside Business Park in North Harbour.

Announcing the enterprise zone money, Solent LEP director Stuart Hill said: ‘It’s just fantastic news. This is all about the ambition to see we get an internationally recognised centre of excellence in the marine and manufacturing sectors.’

Anne-Marie Mountifield, the executive lead for the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, said the sums on offer to businesses would be considerable, but the guidelines to apply for the cash were still being finalised and will be online at solentlep.org.uk.

She added: ‘There’s a willingness by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to work with areas that have the potential to deal with growth and attract new businesses.’

The second announcement, of the apprenticeship fund, will mean more employers in the region will be encouraged to take on new apprentices aged between 16 and 24.

As well as a £1,500 grant, an eligible firm will have the training fees paid of apprentices aged between 16 and 18, and half the fees paid of those aged between 18 and 24.

There are a number of criteria available to see at apprenticeships.org.uk