The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership is to inject nearly £1.6m into the regional economy to support tourism and businesses affected by flooding and the coronavirus.
It will be allocated to the LEP’s partners, councils in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, to use as grant support for strategic tourism and business initiatives following consultations with the area’s business boards.
LEP Chair Mandy Thorn MBE said: “Businesses and the tourism sector have been amongst the hardest hit in 2020. First we had the devastation of the floods and then we have a national emergency as we fight coronavirus and its impact on our economy.
“The LEP’s coronavirus survey has revealed that more than 98% of businesses in the Marches have been affected by COVID-19, and tourism & leisure is one of the sectors most severely impacted.
“The LEP Board has voted to use £1.58m of Marches Investment Funds (MIF) to help support those hardest hit over the next six months. We have a duty to support the regional economy and this will be just one step on the road to its recovery.”
The LEP says the three local authorities will be consulting with council leaders and the chairs of the area’s business boards before submitting detailed plans setting out how the funding is to be used in their respective regions. The funding will be allocated according to population, with Herefordshire receiving £444,220; Shropshire £737,722 and Telford & Wrekin £404,557.
Mrs Thorn explained that the majority of the LEP funding was coming from loan repayments from previous job-creating investment projects the partnership had supported.
“MIF was originally a revolving loan funding to allow stalled projects to get back on track with LEP support. We are delighted that loan repayments from these projects can now be re-purposed into supporting tourism and businesses at this difficult time.”
Businesses can still take part on the LEP coronavirus survey at www.marcheslep.org.uk/coronavirussurvey/