Scores of businesses and leaders have been marking the success of the Marsh Million scheme to boost jobs and economic growth in the area.
They gathered at Lydd Airport to share a series of success stories. Backed by Magnox – operator of the Dungeness A power station, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Kent County Council, Shepway District Council and Ashford Borough Council, £1 million was made available in interest-free loans and grants to small, local businesses, start-ups, charities, community organisations and social enterprises.
The scheme is now closed to new applications, however, once loans are repaid, the funding will be recycled to help and promote further business opportunities.
Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins said:
“The Marsh Million has been channelling funding to start-up businesses in Romney Marsh. It helps those businesses get up and running. In many cases, these are businesses that have not been able to secure bank funding or they want a smaller amount of funding than other interest-free loans schemes would provide. It has been very successful at really targeting at micro- and start-up businesses.”
Mark Dance, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said:
“It’s a way of creating jobs from nothing – providing start-up businesses, entrepreneurs and small companies with the opportunity to do something for themselves. We are delighted with the results of the first stage of the Marsh Million scheme after helping scores of local firms and look forward to its continued success.”
Haf Morris, Magnox’s Socioeconomic Lead, said:
“This project has enabled new businesses to start and established businesses to expand and flourish. Magnox is involved with the Romney Marsh Partnership Group, the New Romney Business Centre and other initiatives on the Marsh to encourage businesses to grow as well as to offer training and apprenticeships locally. Hopefully the businesses that have taken advantage of the interest free loans and grants will continue to thrive and make the Romney Marsh an attractive place for other businesses. Some of those companies that have been supported were there to tell their stories and demonstrate the diversity of skills that can be found locally including high quality engineering and woodwork, 3D cake decorations and bespoke quality knives and wool products; this project and the other initiatives supports the NDA’s intent to mitigate the closure programme at Dungeness A.”
Shepway District Councillor Roger Wilkins, Chairman of the Romney Marsh Partnership, said:
“Marsh Million has given existing businesses in Lydd, Dymchurch, New and Old Romney the chance to expand and create new jobs as well as encouraging entrepreneurs to take the plunge and start up a new business. It’s welcome to see such investment in the area – we will carry on working with our partners to help businesses on the Marsh build on this success.”
Cllr Mick Burgess, lead member for the Romney Marsh at Ashford Borough Council, said:
“We continue to be pleased that we have stepped forward with our partners to support rural businesses in this way. By working together we have been able to harness the considerable potential that exists in the Marsh and we look forward to the next stage of the project.”
Carl Adams, Growth Rings, said:
“It enabled us to think about the opportunities around heritage skills. We create high-end old flooring and furniture that’s destined for heritage properties like stately homes. We put an offer together to Marsh Million that helps us train long-term unemployed and ex-offenders.”
Andrew Weeden, Team Evolution Engineering Limited, said:
“I make bespoke small-scale engines for remote-controlled cars – they’re all race engines. Most of my stuff goes abroad and it’s sold via social media – and often before I’ve even made it. Marsh Million has allowed us to expand and take on an engineer to grow the business.”