TIGER scheme announced

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Businesses in the Thames Gateway are set to receive £20 million to support new investment and new jobs in Dartford, Gravesham, Medway and Swale.

Ministers announced t that TIGER – Thames Gateway Innovation, Growth and Enterprise – is one of 130 schemes nationally to receive money from the Government’s £2.4 billion Regional Growth Fund.

The scheme is set to be up and running by April next year. It will offer low-interest loans to businesses investing in new products and services which will create long-term job opportunities, with the aim of unlocking additional private sector finance.

There have been two previous rounds of RGF funding in the county.

A total of £35 million was made available for Expansion East Kent which will assist in business growth and job creation. Also £5 million has been allocated for rail improvements between Ashford and Ramsgate.

Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, said: “TIGER is a great opportunity for businesses with the appetite for investment and growth. Business will be the backbone of North Kent’s economic recovery – and TIGER will help to unlock its potential.”

The new scheme has been secured following a bid to the Regional Growth Fund by the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership, with the support of local businesses.

The news has been greeted as a show of confidence for the area and council leaders say it will be a huge boost to both investment and job creation.

Rob Bennett, the Chairman of Thames Gateway Kent Partnership, said: “Government backing for TIGER is a huge vote of confidence in the Thames Gateway – one of the UK’s most important economic growth areas. Coming on top of recent investment in transport and infrastructure, it’s another reason why the Gateway is a great place to set up and grow a business.”

As well as the Kent side of Thames, the fund will also be available to businesses in Thurrock, Essex.

It is also the latest example of regeneration which has boosted business opportunities n Medway and Swale.

Andrew Bowles, the Leader of Swale Borough Council, said: “Swale is a great place to invest or to expand an existing business. This fund is brilliant news, and will offer financial help to businesses that want to take advantage of our excellent location, facilities and workforce.”

Rodney Chambers, the Leader of Medway Council, said: “This is a significant endorsement from the Government of our approach to regeneration and it clearly shows we continue to be a place where businesses are welcome and can grow with confidence.

“We look forward to working across North Kent to help as many local businesses as possible benefit from this funding so that it creates more local jobs in the shortest possible time.”

Work is underway to determine the details of how the scheme will operate and how businesses will be able to apply.

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