Over 600 new jobs could be created in South East Northumberland by an investment package worth £11.75m approved by the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).
The South East Northumberland Business Growth Programme was developed in response to the closure of the aluminium smelter of Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) at Lynemouth, leading to the loss of over 500 direct jobs.
The Programme aims to stimulate growth among existing businesses and attract new businesses to the area. It includes a Sites and Premises Fund which will provide grants to businesses looking to invest in new premises and property extensions, to enable growth and the creation of new jobs within and outside the Blyth Estuary Enterprise Zone.
An Accelerating Business Growth Fund will provide grants or loans to enable businesses to grow; develop new markets, products or services; access finance to enable growth; help RTA supply chain firms and others to diversify; attract inward investment and support training.
Details of the schemes will now be developed with the expectation that they will be available for businesses to access from spring 2013.
The RGF bid was developed by Arch in partnership with Northumberland County Council and was backed by RTA and all the Northumberland MPs. The new investment complements the Rio Tinto Alcan Regional Economic Development Programme which aims to provide replacement jobs on the Lynemouth site.
Councillor Jeff Reid, Chairman of Arch and Leader of Northumberland County Council said:
“The funding will be a great boost to Northumberland’s economy and helps us to provide support for investment and businesses. It will be especially important in the south east of the county, which has been severely affected by the RTA closure.”
Peter McIntyre, Arch Group Managing Director said: “This is fantastic news for Northumberland. The RGF funding will help to kick-start developments in areas such as the Blyth Enterprise Zone as well as providing valuable funds to attract new investors and help local businesses to grow.”