A growth fund that helped businesses grow during the pandemic is to receive a £6million cash injection to deal with increased demand following lockdown.
The £20m Flexible Growth Fund was launched in January 2020 to help kickstart investment across the Liverpool City Region (LCR) in projects which create jobs and reinvigorate the economy.
Despite businesses focusing on survival during the Covid crisis, the fund has been able to boost growth, including five projects in Sefton, Wirral, Knowsley and Liverpool which used £13.1m of investment to expand, creating a total of 95 new jobs and safeguarding another 89.
Now the Combined Authority (CA) has approved an extra £4m to deal with a backlog of applications following the easing of restrictions with another £2m on hand if demand surges further, which will lever at least an additional £6m in private funding.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said,
“When I launched my £75m Business Growth Package in 2019, it was to try and attract innovative and expanding new businesses to our city region. I didn’t want us to rest on our laurels – at the time we were the fastest growing region in the country – but to keep pushing to do better.
“While the pandemic meant that many businesses were preoccupied with survival, we’ve been able to use the fund to attract and grow new businesses alongside the tens of millions of pounds we were able to invest in supporting and protecting the local economy.
“Now, as businesses are beginning to think about the future, we’re investing an additional £6m through the Flexible Growth Fund to help attract and grow new businesses, jobs and investment to our region.”
The Flexible Growth Fund provides fast and flexible low-interest loans to LCR businesses which can raise at least 50% in match funding from the private sector for expansion projects.
It aims to generate new jobs, enhance productivity, remove obstacles to expansion and enable a new generation of ‘change-makers’ that will set the Liverpool City Region up for long-term growth.
The fund was established as part of the Metro Mayor’s £75 million Business Growth Package, the largest set of business support funds seen in decades.
Loan repayments are channelled back into the fund, providing new loan capital as part of an ‘evergreen’ model of fund recycling.
Cllr Janette Williamson, Deputy Metro Mayor and Leader of Wirral Council, said,
“Supporting local businesses and jobs has been a key priority and its value has been more evident than ever before through the pandemic. Small and medium sized businesses are a vital part of the city region economy and were impacted by the last 18 months.
“The extra resources we are now able to make available through the Flexible Growth Fund shows that as a city region we are working hard to ensure we support our local businesses and help those aiming to grow.”