North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) has submitted a bid for £14M to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which will be backed up with a promised £61M of private sector finance, if granted.
Damien Jaines-White, head of economic development at NELC, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We’re saying: Give us £14M and we will deliver £64M. We believe we have a strong chance and we have private sector backers.”
The bid was submitted on June 28 and NELC will find out whether it has been shortlisted by mid-August.
“Food manufacturing is a key sector for us, directly employing 4,500 staff locally, excluding the wider supply chain,” said Jaines-White. “We’re seeing a lot of consolidation in the industry, so we want to ensure we remain at the forefront of seafood manufacturing and see our sector grow rather than decline.”
There are two strands to the bid. The first will provide funds for private sector projects to support the infrastructure in food manufacturing. Jaines-White would not confirm the names of the private sector firms involved in the scheme as he said the information was “commercially sensitive”.
The second strand aims to provide wider support via a mini regional growth fund that works on a local level. This would provide grants to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Food manufacturers and firms that contribute to the success of food manufacturing firms, such as engineering companies, would be eligible to apply.
“This concept has found some favour with ministers in previous bids,” said Jaines-White. “We’ve run similar schemes before so we have the knowledge and experience in place to fund this. £1M will go a long way if split between various SMEs.”
A new border inspection post has been proposed, which will enable more food products to be imported via the Immingham Docks. This will eliminate the need for road transportation of food products to Grimsby for clearance.
NELC also works with local colleges to address skill shortages in food manufacturing. If the funding is granted, it will expand its work in the area.
“We have a local apprenticeship scheme already and we’re keen to explore how we can extend this to working with larger companies in future,” said Jaines-White.
"We want to ensure any new developments in the industry benefit the North East.”