Bridging the Gap’s a good way to help firms grow

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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It can be tough out there for small and medium-sized businesses in the Portsmouth area at the moment.

Some are hanging on by their fingernails as the recession continues to bite.

But there are others who may be doing well enough to consider expanding, yet find they can’t do so because funding is hard to obtain.

Then there are the entrepreneurs with bright business ideas who are being frustrated by not getting access to the loans that would help them get off the ground.

If these businesses could be encouraged to grow or become established, think what that would do for employment prospects and the general health of the local economy.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage had the same thoughts – and turned them into action by winning £2.1m of government money from the Regional Growth Fund for a scheme called Bridging the Gap to help our firms grow and create jobs.

Now, two years on, a second wave of firms selected to benefit can look forward to an exciting future of new premises, buying new equipment or starting new projects.

People like Andrew Jones, whose convenience store in Gosport needs an extension having expanded three-fold in the past six years.

Being allowed to grow means he can take on extra staff.

Ms Dinenage is to be congratulated for her vision and for having the tenacity to make it happen by asking questions in Parliament and seeing it through.

We’ve been delighted to have played our part, working with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, the University of Portsmouth and the Federation of Small Businesses to pitch for a share of the cash.

Bridging the Gap is the first scheme of its kind in the UK and has demonstrated its worth by helping to promote growth.

So we urge other firms to come forward now so that they can be considered in future funding rounds.

The money is there – and it could transform your business.