Duchy misses target for jobs after big shortfall in growth from EU cash
The current round of ERDF Convergence funding has leveraged in £120 million of private sector match funding during its seven-year term.
A celebratory event held at Heartlands yesterday heard that the £458 million investment had generated £254 million in total match funding, compared to a target of £110 million.
Some of this match funding came from the Regional Development Agency and local authorities, with the remaining £120 million contributed by the private sector.
"We have been successful in getting the programme to go much further than was originally anticipated," said Theo Leisjer, head of the South West Growth Delivery team.
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Key Convergence investments between 2007 and 2013 have included: Cornwall's three innovation centres at Pool, Truro and Penryn; multi-million pound developments at to the Penryn campus; improvements to the Truro to Falmouth branchline; superfast broadband; the Heartlands regeneration scheme; the Wave Hub device as well as investment in workspace and businesses.
Despite the higher than expected levels of private sector investment, the ERDF Convergence programme fell well short of its job creation and GVA targets, meeting 17% or the former and 10% of the latter.
Programme managers stressed that targets were set before the recession and that the benefits of the Convergence investment would be felt well beyond the end of 2013, with some projects it has funded due to run until 2015 and the full benefits of some of its large scale investments, such as its innovation centres, taking years to ramp up.
Mr Leisjer said: "We're confident that beyond the programme period the investment that we have made today will start to deliver significant jobs growth and growth of GVA."
Looking ahead to the next round of European funding, of 592 million euros, which is due to run from 2014 to 2020, Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Chris Pomfret warned that businesses will have to dig deeper themselves.
"We will have reduced Cornwall Council and government match funding. Match funding will have to come from the private sector," he said.
The next round of funding, which will be managed by the LEP, will have an emphasis on SMEs and innovation, with Mr Pomfret pledging to make the application process as simple as possible for businesses.
With negotiations between the UK government and Europe expected to continue well into next year and a 'spend it or lose it' approach to the funding, Mr Pomfret urged businesses with plans for growth to get in touch, saying: "We need that pipeline because there's £70 million on the table next year."
The next round of funding has a target of increasing Cornwall's GVA by £338 million by 2020 and to take its GDP to more than 75% of the European average.
Mr Pomfret said: "It's better to have a target and miss it rather than achieve it because you didn't try to achieve anything special."
See next week's WMN Business for the first in a four-part series about ERDF Convergence investment.