Regional growth fund boost

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A DELAYED regional growth fund scheme is to be accelerated, pumping £352million in the region’s economy.

Problems in delivering the scheme led to Sunderland-based Nissan pulling out.

Now the Department for Business has said it plans to hand out the last of the first two rounds of a £1.4billion growth fund by the end of the summer.

Winners of the third round of bidding are set to be announced in the autumn.

A problem for local businesses in the past has been the volume of paperwork required.

Business minister Mark Prisk is now confident changes to the application process will see more firms bidding for funding.

He said: “A significant improvement to round three will be that the contracting process timeline has been defined.

“The timings have been fixed so that the terms of a conditional offer must be agreed within three months of the announcement and bidders then have a further three months to complete due diligence.

“This means that bidders will sign a final offer within six months of ministers deciding to support the bid.”