Mayor Steve Rotheram’s successful £20m business fund extends funding period

• Flexible Growth Fund has supported projects worth £17m and created and protected 373 jobs

• Successful fund has 9 upcoming projects seeking £11m funding in pipeline

• Private investment match-funding target tripled with £12m to date

Mayor Steve Rotheram at a lectern

Businesses in the Liverpool City Region could be eligible to apply for a share of a £20m investment fund that has been extended by Mayor Steve Rotheram.

The Flexible Growth Fund was established by Mayor Rotheram with £20m in 2020, offering flexible, low-interest loans that businesses can access quickly and easily within 10 weeks.

The funding is part of the Mayor’s Business Growth Package, the largest set of business support funding the region has seen in decades. This is in addition to the £200m business support package delivered during and after COVID to help keep the economy afloat and help local companies to survive and grow.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“SMEs are the engine of our region’s economy, contributing millions of pounds and creating tens of thousands of jobs for local people. I see the value that businesses bring to our area, the opportunities they create for people to get on in life – and the positive impact they have on the communities they operate in.

“That’s why I want to ensure that we’re helping to put them in the best position to succeed – because we know that when local businesses are given the support they need to thrive, the rest of our economy flourishes too. Dozens of SMEs have benefitted from our funding so far and it’s because of its high success rate that we can offer even more business owners the helping hand they need to take their company to the next level.”

Launched at a time when many businesses were focused on survival rather than growth, the Flexible Growth Fund has still had a successful three years, with £4.6m invested in nine projects which have created 166 new jobs and protected another 207, while attracting £12.4m of additional private sector match funding.

At its meeting last week (Friday, 20 January, 2023), the Combined Authority agreed to extend the scheme, which currently has a pipeline of 9 projects totalling £11m seeking £4.2m investment through the fund, until 2024.

Managed by River Capital, it is available to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) undertaking expansion projects and with the ability to raise 50% in match funding from the private sector.

Councillor Janette Williamson, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Economy and Third Sector, said:

“The strong performance of the Flexible Growth Fund during the pandemic shows the need for this type of funding to allow ambitious local businesses to grow and create decent, high-quality jobs. Whilst we have emerged from the worst of the pandemic, businesses still face significant challenges from inflation, energy prices and the danger of recession, and extending this fund would provide them with the support they need to continue to grow.”

Using an ‘evergreen’ model, loan repayments are recycled back into the fund, providing new loan capital.

A total of £6.5m had been released into the fund as of December 2022, which is expected to create at least 100 new jobs and safeguard another 142.

River Capital CEO, Mark Borzomato said

“We have been impressed by the variety of growth projects presented by businesses across the whole of the LCR and delighted to have been able to support their ambitions.

“An evaluation of the scheme shows that the initial tranche already drawn of £4.61m has attracted £12.4m in additional private sector investment – almost three times the targeted amount of match funding.

“With 9 active projects worth £11m in the pipeline for support through the fund, an extension clause in the five-year agreement is set to be triggered to meet the demand and run the scheme until March 2024.”

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