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Gloucestershire Business News

Essential funding for GFirst LEP and Growth Hub up for approval

A big meeting takes place tomorrow (March 15) to approve essential funding for GFirst LEP.

The economic partnership is asking the Gloucestershire Economic Growth Committee for match funding of £125,000 for 2023/24 from the Gloucestershire Economic Growth: Strategic Economic Development Fund (SEDF) - a fund for the benefit of the whole of the county.

The LEP is requesting the second tranche of match-funding for its core funding from central Government. An initial £125,000 was approved at the GEGJC in November 2022, now it is seeking the second tranche of £125,000 for the financial year 2023/24.

The LEP needs the funding to continue the infrastructure and business support work it does in the county. Key priorities for 2023/24 include:

• Produce a Gloucestershire Economic Strategy in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council

• Ensure the Growth Hub Network continues to support the business community in the county

• Education and Skills team and Careers Hub will continue inspire and prepare young people for the world of work

• Ensure the successful completion of the last remaining Local Growth Deal/ Getting Building Fund projects - Gloucester Railway Station, South West Bypass and The Minster Exchange

• Oversee and project manage the Made in Gloucestershire initiative

Since 2011, GFirst LEP has made a huge difference to the county. The numbers speak for themselves.

It has successfully bid for £101,690,000 of infrastructure funding for Gloucestershire through the Gloucestershire Growth Deal, and EU 41,000,000 in European funding through the EU Structural & Investment Funds Strategy.

This funding has paid for projects including: The Growth Hub Network; The Gloucester Transport Hub; Farm 491 in Cirencester; the refurbishment of the Five Valleys Shopping Centre in Stroud; Elmbridge Court Roundabout; and the GREEN Skills Centre in Berkeley.

A successful bid for £11.3 million from the Getting Building Fund funded five further infrastructure projects across the county:

• The Minster Exchange with Cheltenham Borough Council

• Cyber Incubations Units with Gloucestershire College

• The Digital Innovation Farm with Hartpury University and Hartpury College

• AccXel with KW Bell Group Ltd in Cinderford

• The Gloucestershire Applied Digital Skills Centre with Cirencester College

The Government provided £500,000 core funding to all Local Enterprise Partnerships for 10 years. In 2022/23, this was reduced to £375,000 and for 2023/24 it has been reduced to £250,000.

The £250,000 match funding has been provided since 2013/14, either via Gloucestershire County Council directly or more recently through the GEGJC SEDF.

Punchline said: "Fingers crossed for the Gloucestershire business community that GFirst LEP will be granted this essential funding. The LEP has been the key to success for the county and the business community is firmly behind it. The Growth Hubs in particular are a huge success.

"The big question now is, with David Owen the chief executive working four days a week for Gloucestershire County Council, who will be in the driving seat moving forward? We hope the management team at GFirst LEP stays firm. They have done a remarkable job over the years."

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