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A £5.5m government scheme aimed at helping small and micro businesses in west Kent develop and boost jobs through interest free loans has been launched.
The scheme, called Escalate, will offer interest-free loans to existing companies around the A21 corridor to encourage them to create jobs and expand.
Money for the initiative is coming through the government’s Regional Growth Fund, which is already supporting East Kent Expansion initiative and the TIGER project in north Kent.
The aim of Escalate is to create and protect 1,250 jobs through more than 150 businesses, helping those who have struggled to secure bank loans.
However, to qualify for a loan, businesses will have to provide “match funding” at the same level.
Cities minister and Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark said: “This is a great boost for business in west Kent.
"Business finance is still a big issue for many companies that want to expand.
"The loan fund provides a new source of funding for ambitious firms in west Kent that really want to grow and take more people on.”
Cllr Paul Carter, the leader of Kent County Council, said: “This is a superb opportunity for strong companies to expand and realise their ambitions.
"This investment for businesses around the A21 ties in with the government’s announcement that it will back improvements to this crucial road.”
Peter Fleming, chairman of the West Kent Partnership, said: “We’ve worked hard with KCC to secure this funding that is expected to generate or safeguard over 1,000 jobs across west Kent.
"What’s more it will have the knock-on effect of stimulating further economic growth in the supply chain.”
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