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Kent
Loans Scheme Takes Local Businesses to Another Level
Kent
 
Local businesses can now apply for interest-free loans with the Escalate programme. Michael Fallon MP, the Business Minister, teamed up with Cllr Peter Fleming, Leader of Sevenoaks District Council and Chairman of the West Kent Partnership, and local businessman Jan van de Velde, the MD of Kit for Kids, to launch the scheme in Sevenoaks on Friday 6 December 2013.
Escalate is open to small and medium sized businesses in West Kent and East Sussex with the potential to grow quickly, with the aim of creating or protecting 1,250 jobs. In all, £5.5 million is available to invest in local businesses.

Escalate loans are interest-free and normally unsecured – but rather than being used as working capital, they will need to be used for specific projects that create jobs, support business expansion and help attract additional private investment.


Michael Fallon, MP for Sevenoaks, welcomed the scheme: "Escalate should be a big boost for our local businesses. Attracting finance is still a problem for many companies that have the potential to expand. But the £5.5m Escalate loan fund will provide an important source of new funding to help these ambitious firms develop, grow and take on new staff.”


Cllr Peter Fleming, adds: “With the launch of Escalate our small and medium sized businesses can access a new source of funding to help them develop. We know that in too many cases businesses find it hard to borrow money from the banks, but this scheme can help our growing enterprises reach their full potential.”


Jan van der Velde, the Managing Director of Kit For Kids, a Sevenoaks-based world-leader in the design of primary educational equipment and cot mattresses, helped with the Escalate bid and says: “Fast growing businesses are always cash hungry. Previously banks were eager to lend to them but in 2008 this came to a very sudden halt. We are seeing them lend again, however it’s still a major problem for young, fast growing companies leaving a funding gap for new entrepreneurs.”

“Escalate should provide funding for these fast growth businesses. It should also help to attract other private sector funds and give confidence to banks who can see that their risk is being shared. By backing our entrepreneurs we can unlock other forms of lending and give these companies the working capital they need to achieve their full potential and create jobs.”

To find out more and to apply for Escalate funding visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/escalate

Escalate was established following a bid to the government’s Regional Growth Fund supported by Kent County Council, West Kent Partnership, Oxford Innovation and businesses and councils throughout West Kent and East Sussex.


Businesses in Sevenoaks District and well as those in Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, Hastings, Rother and Wealden, an area known as the A21 Corridor, can apply.