Nick Clegg will join former Cabinet minister Lord Heseltine today to unveil plans to invest £450 million in businesses across England aimed at creating or safeguarding 100,000 jobs.
Fifty bids by companies and partnerships to promote economic growth and create new jobs will be given financial support under the first round of the so-called Regional Growth Fund.
The Deputy Prime Minister will visit the North West to meet one of the successful bidders. He will be joined by Lord Heseltine, a former deputy prime minister, who now chairs the panel that oversees the £1 billion fund.
Ministers said 27,000 jobs will be directly created or safeguarded, with tens of thousands of others supported in associated supply chains. The rest of the fund will be allocated later following a second round of bids, which opened today.
Schemes supported include expansion of a Haribo sweet factory near Wakefield, development of a former eye hospital in Manchester into a biomedical centre, building of the next generation of Vivaro vans in Luton and construction of a manufacturing plant in Teesside.
Mr Clegg said: "I was bowled over by the quality of the bids. This money will now help create and safeguard jobs in some of the communities worst hit by the economic downturn.
"Today is a step towards rebalancing our economy away from an unhealthy over-reliance on a small number of industries and a few areas. We need to spread opportunity across the whole country, drawing on our many talents.
"I know that with the right support these businesses can work with their communities and together play their part in leading the country back into prosperity."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Supporting job creation in the regions is vital if we are to drive growth in our local communities.
"We have received a large number of ambitious and highly competitive bids to this first round of the Regional Growth Fund, which will help a number of businesses across the country to expand and create thousands of new jobs."
The Government expects the £450 million to lever in around £2.5 billion of private sector investment.
But shadow business secretary John Denham accused the coalition of "refusing to invest in growth" and warned there would be "more losers than winners".
He claimed that 464 projects worth £2.78 billion had been submitted for only £450 million of funding.
He said: "By cutting funding for regional growth by two thirds, the Tory-led Government is choking off the funding needed for regions to grow and create the jobs our economy needs.
"The Government is allocating £1.4 billion over three years to projects, two thirds less than the £1.4 billion a year Labour were investing through the RDAs (Regional Development Agencies) alone."
Mr Denham said Labour would have added an extra £200 million to the funding announced today through a repeat of the bankers bonus tax, a "quick but effective way of supporting growth and creating jobs".
Meanwhile the Regional Growth Fund was hailed by the Engineering Employers Federation as a "welcome focus on supporting investment in research and development and backing high quality jobs in growing manufacturing sectors".
And the Carbon Trust said it had received £1.9 million from the fund, to be spent on energy efficiency projects and the creation of 3,000 jobs.Reuse content