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£100m JESSICA fund unveiled

Details of a new urban development fund were due to be announced at an event with the NWDA and European Commission in Manchester today.

The gathering at One Central Park will hear how the Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas initiative will invest in property schemes in agreed strategic sites around the North West over the next five years.

Branded as the Northwest Urban Investment Fund, the programme will use £50m from the North West development Agency and £50m from European Regional Development Fund. Only London has set up a JESSICA fund in the UK to date, signing its agreements with Europe in October.

New fund will offer loans, equity, guarantees

The programme has the support of the European Investment Bank, which will act as a holding fund from which the new Northwest Urban Investment Fund draws down cash for investment. That investment will be expected to ake a return and be recycled on to other schemes. It may take the form of loans, equity or guarantees alongside private developer's interests.

Paweł Samecki, European Commissioner for regional policy, said: "When loans are re-paid, the fund is re-cycled and then re-invested. This means the money goes much further than a one-off grant and will continue to enhance the competitiveness of the regional economy for years to come. I congratulate everyone involved in this innovative scheme."

Robert Hough, chairman of the NWDA, said: "This initiative is an opportunity for the region to put a mechanism in place that will ensure we can prolong the benefit of our ERDF Programme [originally due to finish at the end of 2013]."

The priority areas set out in the business plan for the Northwest Urban Investment Fund are:

  • Deliver Strategic Regional Sites, especially 'knowledge nuclei' and 'intermodal freight terminals'
  • Identify and pursue reserve sites for major investment that would not otherwise come forward: particularly for manufacturing, knowledge-based industry, corporate headquarters and research & development
  • Develop a portfolio of sub-regionally important employment sites
  • Invest in quality business space in Housing Market Renewal and Urban Regeneration Company areas

Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for the United Kingdom, said: "This collaboration between the EIB and the Northwest Regional Development Agency builds on the EIB's reinforced commitment to support SME activities and sustainable urban regeneration in the current financial and economic crisis. We intend to use EIB financial resources to their full advantage, and where appropriate, to complement the investment of European Structural Funds in the region."

Liz Meek, chair of the European Regional Development Fund's Programme Monitoring Committee said: "I am delighted to welcome today's announcement. European funding has helped to regenerate many parts of the region over the last 15 years and this is a guarantee that this important work will continue at a time when the support is more needed than ever."

North West projects will be delivered by local Urban Development Funds and, if required, holding funds. Today's agreement between the EIB and the NWDA will be followed by the formal procurement of the UDFs which will commence during March 2010, with UDFs expected to be selected by the end of the summer 2010.

  • To download an NWDA brochure about the Northwest Urban Investment Fund click here

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