The latest articles on the Convergence programme showing the integration of activity, lessons learnt and good practice available here...
Hungry for success. Western Morning News.
We are living in challenging times – the credit crunch is biting and individuals, businesses and government organisations are tightening their belts.
But Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has a unique opportunity in the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence programmes which are now well underway with the investment of the £570+ million is well on target. And businesses are still hungry for success.
A prime example of this is Watson-Marlow – an ambitious Falmouth-based pump manufacturer which had one of the first ERDF Convergence approval announcements to be made.
That announcement – of £768,700 of ERDF Convergence investment for a £7.3 million expansion – was made last August and this month the purpose-built silicone tubing plant has been officially handed over. The company, which employs 180 staff, says that once the high tech equipment is installed this will triple production capacity and create or safeguard 32 jobs.
Built to a BREEAM excellent standard, environmental features include rainwater harvesting, high levels of insulation – considerably in excess of current requirements - and Somar Eluma energy saving lights. The building has been sunk into a hill to minimise its visual impact and more than 75% of the aggregate from the excavation was reused. 9,500 plants are being used for the landscaping, including 25 oak trees.
What else has taken place over the year? The very first ERDF investment was announced in June 2008. The £8 million Truro to Falmouth railway line improvement is now up and running with daily trains doubled. This investment has unlocked the economic potential of three, important commercial and academic centres – Truro, Falmouth and Penryn.
Convergence investments must be aimed at strengthening the economy, whether they be investments in bricks and mortar, state of the art equipment, training, education or knowledge sharing.
More than £10 million of investments already approved relate directly to businesses – gap funding for workspace and expansion, tailored voucher schemes, expert advice and support to trade internationally.
For instance Business Link is using £4.6 million of ERDF Convergence investment and £1.5 million from the South West RDA for an in-depth specialist business service launched in September 2008. Since the start of the contract, Business Link has engaged with more than 200 businesses. SWIG (Capital) Ltd is using £5 million from ERDF Convergence and South West RDA for the new gap funding investment – the South West Loans Fund. The £2 million Globalisation project aims to help 193 businesses trade internationally and to encourage foreign investment here.
And investment in people is well underway. An extra £10 million – thanks to the revaluation of the pound against the euro – is being focussed on support to help those affected by the economic downturn. Up to 2013 Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has more ESF to invest than the rest of the South West regions put together. ESF Convergence investments so far include £4 million in Unlocking Cornish Potential which places and supports graduates with businesses; £48 million with the Learning and Skills Council to train, skill and upskill those in and out of work and £16 million with Jobcentre Plus.