City leaders today (Thursday 23rd July) announced their intention to launch a £5m growth fund to help businesses expand and take on more staff following the coronavirus crisis.
The fund will be used to invest in innovative growth plans that can create high-quality employment, help diversify the local economy and encourage low-carbon technologies. This will be a key pillar of a wider recovery strategy to reboot the local economy and ensure that Derby emerges strongly post COVID-19.
The need for more support to help firms launch new products and services and develop new production processes was identified by Derby’s Economic Recovery Task Force following discussions with company bosses, business organisations and a survey of hundreds of local small and medium-sized enterprises.
News of the fund was announced during a visit to the city by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick.
Mr Jenrick met with members of the recovery task force and was told that work was already underway to maintain business confidence, diversify the economy and decarbonise the city.
During a tour of Derby’s iHub innovation centre, the minister heard how support was being provided to find new employment for workers facing redundancy because of the crisis and was briefed on how Derby Market Place is being transformed into an exciting eating, drinking and performance area to encourage visitors and boost local hospitality businesses.
Discussions also took place on bids for millions of pounds of funding that the city has made to Mr Jenrick’s department to help the city build back better and differently.
These include a project to establish a £20m advanced manufacturing research centre at Infinity Park and a regeneration package of over £20m to develop an exciting future use for Derby’s historic Market Hall, build offices and create new public space in the city.
Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council said the authority was keen to provide targeted support for initiatives to create new jobs, encourage diversification and promote clean growth and, subject to council approval, £5m would be made available from existing resources to launch the initiative.
Efforts are also being made to try to identify further funding partners to grow the total amount available for further investment.
“We are working hard to bring new investment and employment into the city and also want to support existing businesses who have the opportunity to grow and take on more staff,” Councillor Poulter said.
“Derby has a rich history of innovation and it is that creativity and dynamism that we want to help harness as we face the economic challenges presented by coronavirus head-on.”
Councillor Poulter described the discussions with Mr Jenrick as “very positive” and thanked the minister for making time to understand the city’s recovery strategy in detail.
“We are already working hard with our partners to reset our economy. We have announced our intentions to develop a new city centre performance venue. We are supporting private investors who are committed to developing schemes worth more than £500m in Derby and we are working in partnership with central Government on initiatives like Our City Our River, which will see £10m spent on creating a new city centre park and freeing up land for homes and industrial development through flood alleviation measures.
“Today we had the opportunity to explain to Mr Jenrick how his department could work with us further and turbo-charge Derby’s economic recovery.”