The win follows the council’s successful bid for a share of £32m ‘City Deal’ funding made available by the deputy prime minister’s office to help stimulate and support economic growth. The government is keen to give England’s 20 largest cities outside London more responsibility for generating commercial and employment opportunities.
It’s envisaged the funding will encourage local firms and organisations to take advantage of a range of business-building initiatives including match funding of capital grants up to £40k to support priority sectors developing in Southend and potentially wider South Essex, innovation vouchers to help developing businesses make use of key academic institutions and courses to equip new and developing businesses in partnership with private sector operators such as the Chamber of Commerce.
Councillor Nigel Holdcroft, Leader of Southend on Sea Borough Council said: "The fund gives us a wonderful opportunity to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ for linking national schemes and local initiatives so the business community can quickly and easily get the help and advice it needs to grow.
"And there’ll be funded help for forging much closer links with UK Trade and Investment, to help win overseas business. Potentially, this project could be rolled out to the wider Local Enterprise Partnership area as Southend is the only City Deal in the South East LEP in England."
City Deals are agreements between government and a city giving it control to take charge and responsibility for decisions affecting its area, do what they think is best to help businesses grow, create economic growth and decide how public money should be spent.
In January 2013, Southend put forward its proposal showing how it would to do this.
Southend falls into the 20 cities category - the 14 largest cities outside of London and their wider areas and the six cities with the highest population growth during 2001 to 2010.