Published on 21 July 2021
Archived on 21 August 2021
Businesses across Warwickshire are set to benefit from a £140m cash injection to boost the county's post pandemic economic recovery.
In a major statement about Warwickshire as a great place to do business, Warwickshire County Council has agreed the significant new fund to stimulate the local economy, create jobs, support local businesses and attract investment into the county. Warwickshire's economy has a great track record of growth and excellent fundamentals.
The Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund (WRIF) specifically addresses a gap that has been identified in the market for access to finance. The aim is to distribute £140m over the next five years, offering loans and other financial investments to existing and new businesses to help their long-term recovery and growth.
The investment is a fundamental part of the Council's COVID-19 Recovery Plan - and together with other support from the Council - is expected to create over 3,000 new jobs and safeguard many thousands more.
The first programme to open will be the Business Investment Growth (BIG) fund aimed at medium to large companies with a good track record. The funding will be targeted at businesses looking to expand as well as companies looking to make Warwickshire the place where they do business.
The programme will launch next week and a prospectus will be available online for interested businesses.
Drawing on analysis, the Council expects that unemployment could rise significantly by the time the effects of the third national lockdown are fully felt. The Gross Value Added (GVA) of the county - its economic output - is forecast to fall sharply as a result of the pandemic.
Warwickshire County Council's investment is designed to help address this, arrest the downward trend and drive growth and recovery of the county's previously strong economy. It is anticipated that that the WRIF will also unlock and bring in around £100m of additional private sector investment and, through improved growth and productivity, create an annual increase in GVA of up to £160m .
Cllr Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council's portfolio holder for economy and place, said: "I am absolutely thrilled that Warwickshire County Council has launched the Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund and we can get on with helping businesses. We are absolutely committed to working with our partners and with local businesses to ensure Warwickshire bounces back better with a vibrant and sustainable economy that is fit for the future in the world after the pandemic.
"Since the start of the pandemic we have been working with local businesses, most notably those in the hardest hit sectors - retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism along with their supply chains - to help them to access emergency finance to help them to be sustained or to help them to adapt so that they can look to grow in the changing market. These have been immensely helpful to local businesses but the WRIF is our next step, a much broader, long-term package of support which we expect to make a significant impact on the local economy.
"We know that this is a big commitment, but as a Council we are convinced that we need an ambitious and bold strategy to play our part in creating a healthy job market with opportunities for everyone to find work. And this will be done in a responsible manner so that it helps drive the county's commitment to climate change. We are seeking applications that will have a positive impact not only on the economy but also on the environment.
"This exciting fund to help businesses prosper will be up and running in the coming weeks, and we will follow that with our new funding for smaller enterprises and our support for housing, regeneration and new business premises."
Cllr Peter Butlin, Deputy Leader and portfolio holder for property and finance, said: "Warwickshire County Council has always managed its finances prudently and that is how we are in a position to make such a strong investment. The fund will be managed with similar prudence.
"Much of it will consist of secured loans, as we both invest in our businesses to create jobs for our residents and generate a modest financial return. As well as that, supporting businesses to sustain themselves and to grow, keeping more people in employment across all ages, safeguards our business rates and council tax receipts. As well as being the right thing to do to deliver our policy objectives for our residents, it is also financially responsible."
Sarah Windrum, Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), said: "Warwickshire County Council's £140 million fund mirrors perfectly with the Implementation Plan of the CWLEP's Strategic Reset Framework to help with the long-term growth of our economy. It is vital we are innovative in our approach to create the conditions for businesses to recover from the pandemic and create jobs as well as attract inward investment to Coventry and Warwickshire and build on our global appeal."
Louise Bennett, Chief Executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is a major investment that is aimed at helping companies grow and thrive as we emerge from the shadow of Covid and is a bold move from Warwickshire County Council. We welcome the initiative and is another measure which will help us maintain and grow our economy across the county."
Further updates on the scheme, including when applications can be made can be found at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/wrif
The WRIF will comprise, primarily, of three types of activity, creating a comprehensive base of business support:
This bold and ambitious investment in the county forms part of the Council's much wider package of support for economic recovery. Since the start of the pandemic, the Council has been offering a range of programmes to support businesses in their survival in the short term, and expansion in the longer term. These include:
These programmes were part of an initial £8m of Economic Recovery funding, agreed in 2020. They sit alongside other business support provided by the council which are not connected to the Covid response, such as its existing programme of small capital grants and ERDF programmes, which have helped many businesses start up and continue to grow.
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
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