Two major grant bids, with the potential of generating major investment and new jobs for the Island, have recently been submitted to the government.
Both bids are to the Regional Growth Fund – one designed to encourage upgrades to tourism premises, and the other to develop an energy centre linked to tidal power.
The growth fund was set up to help areas affected by the loss of public sector employment – particularly to generate new investment and jobs in the private sector.
Match funding for tourism businesses
The tourism bid is to set up a £1.3 million investment fund, offering Island businesses match funding to help upgrade their premises.
This could include hotels providing additional facilities to achieve a higher star rating. The proposal has the backing of a large number of accommodation providers who have submitted letters in support of the bid.
Second attempt for Solent Ocean Energy Centre
The second bid has been made with a group of partners to develop a Solent Ocean Energy Centre. This would provide facilities to test prototype tidal energy devices and develop a commercial tidal energy facility off the south coast of the Island.
A comprehensive bid for £20 million had previously been submitted to round one of the Regional Growth Fund bidding earlier this year, but was unsuccessful.
The new bid is for a £1.2 million contribution from the fund to support a total investment of £3.4 million towards the energy centre development.
Following this stage, private sector partners have committed to bring forward commercial investment to make the centre a reality.
Long term benefit of energy centre to Island
In the long term it has been estimated such an energy centre could create nearly 5,000 jobs and have an economic value of an estimated £1.7 billion.
Commenting on the bid, the council’s cabinet member for the economy and the environment, Councillor George Brown, said: “Although the government decided to focus its support in round one of the Regional Growth Fund to the north and Midlands, it is important we continue to make the case to government for resources to support private sector growth and investment in the Island economy, creating new job opportunities for residents.
“Both tourism and the renewable energy sector are key priorities for the Island and although competition for funding will be strong from across the country it is hoped the two bids put forward in round two will be well received.”