Friday, 4 September 2009

New support for small firms in East Wales

In a project which will be delivered in working partnership with local authorities, the Assembly Government's Single Investment Fund is being specially extended to help smaller businesses in eastern parts of Wales to weather the recession.

It's estimated that nearly 400 small firms and business starters will benefit from the £2 million which will be earmarked to fund the extended scheme over the next six months - and that around 275 jobs will be created by those businesses.

The Single Investment Fund normally supports larger investment projects by Welsh firms with grants which must be greater than a minimum of £5,000.

In western parts of Wales, which are eligible for EU structural fund support, smaller grants are available through the local authority-managed, EU-funded Local Investment Fund - which is able to offer capital grants of less than £5,000.

Now, firms in eastern Wales will also be able to obtain grant aid on the scale often required by new or small enterprises through the temporary amendment of the Single Investment Fund's rules to allow grants down to a minimum level of £1,000.

The scheme will be delivered in partnership between the Assembly Government and Local Government and small firms will be able to apply for assistance either through their local authority or through the Assembly Government's Flexible Support for Business service. The local authorities participating in the scheme are Cardiff, Flintshire, Monmouth, Newport, Powys, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones announced that, as part of the Assembly Government's drive to counter the impact of recession in all parts of Wales, the Single Investment Fund's rules will be amended from now until March 31, 2010.

Speaking at a networking event for small business owners and managers at Wrexham's regional Flexible Support for Business centre, Mr.Jones said:

"The availability of support on this scale is very important to new and small firms - and this issue has been raised in a series of meetings I have held with business representatives in east Wales since the downturn began.

"Recession has been Wales wide and has not respected geographical boundaries.

"EU funds are already available in those part of Wales which qualify for Structural Funding. However, the effects of the recession as Wales-wide and because of these exceptional economic circumstances, the Assembly Government funds will now make available a similar support in East Wales as a temporary measure to tackle the downturn.

"We will also make access to this new source of funding to easy as possible through working closely with Local Government to deliver the funding in the most effective way possible."

Councillor Aled Roberts, Leader of Wrexham Council, speaking for the Welsh Local Government Association added:

"We welcome the extension of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Single Investment Fund to help smaller businesses across East Wales. At a time when smaller businesses are suffering under the strain of the recession, this grant funding will go some way to assist new business start ups, ensure the sustainability of their businesses over time and therefore reduce the impact of business closures on local communities.

"This additional funding is a recognition by the Welsh Assembly Government of the need to ensure that East Wales’ smaller business community is not adversely affected by the worst of the recession.

"We are particularly pleased that this scheme will be delivered in partnership between the Assembly Government and Local Government as our local authorities have the knowledge and understanding of what is happening on the ground and are aware of the challenges our small and medium sized businesses are facing during this recession.

"We look forward to working with the Assembly Government to deliver this new scheme and to ensure that small businesses across East Wales benefit from this funding that will be available until March 2010"


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