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Small Business Boost launched at Folkestone Academy giving companies employing less than 50 people the chance to get interest-free loans

By Chris Price

Small companies employing up to 50 people in east Kent may now be eligible for interest-free loans of up to £50,000 under a new council scheme.

The Small Business Boost fund was launched at the Folkestone Academy today to help start ups and firms trading for less than six years.

It is part of the £35m Expansion East Kent programme, which offers loans to companies hoping to grow by taking on more staff.

A selection of British currency coins and notes. Stock Image.

The scheme – set up using money from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund – has so far allocated £21.4m to companies in Canterbury, Thanet, Dover and Shepway.

It was expanded to include companies in the Ashford borough last month.

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter said: “This offer of interest-free loans is aimed at providing a massive boost to small firms, entrepreneurs and start-ups, to support business, generate jobs and grow the east Kent economy.

“Over the past year we’ve had tremendous success in backing medium and larger-scale businesses – creating thousands of extra jobs across the whole region.

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter at the launch of the Small Business Boost

“Now we want to focus on helping smaller operations for whom zero-rate finance can prove a vital stepping stone to expansion and unlocking private sector-finance.

“The intelligent use of funding means we can recycle the money to provide vital business support on an on-going basis, benefitting local firms and creating local jobs for years to come.”

Expansion East Kent has a priority list of sectors it wants to target, including scientific research and development and manufacturing, especially in support of the renewable energy industry.

For details, click here.

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