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Public sector leaders announce £2million plan to help boost Suffolk's economy in response to effects of coronavirus

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A £2million plan to boost Suffolk’s economy and help businesses get back on their feet has been announced – with public leaders saying that supporting the county’s tourism industry is vital to its future.

Suffolk Public Sector Leaders (SPSL) – a gathering of all the councils’ leaders and chief executives – on Friday pledged a £1.3million pot for efforts to boost the economy, coupled with a further £1m from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

That cash will include recruiting a lead officer to oversee efforts in boosting the visitor economy over the next three years, and establishing a £1.6m pot for businesses and projects to bid for a share of.

Suffolk County Council, Endeavour House (42435446)
Suffolk County Council, Endeavour House (42435446)

Other work includes commissioning research on measures to boost the visitor economy, and skills training for people in that industry.

Public sector chiefs hope the cash awarded from the pot, known as the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund, will be made by the end of September next year.

SPSL’s lead for inclusive growth and chief executive of East Suffolk Council, Stephen Baker, said: “The effect on the economy has been fundamental.

“The funding will enable the authorities to support the Suffolk economy in various ways, but specifically we are looking to support the visitor economy with some investment in resource.

“We are not looking to hand out a few small grants, we are looking to take a step back and invest in resources we feel we need in order to really support all aspects of the visitor economy, and also looking to establish a Suffolk Growth Investment Fund.

“That will be available for businesses and projects to bid into.

“We recognise it is very much a challenge for the long term.

“We are not going to be able to turn this around overnight, but given the way the Suffolk system works, given the collaboration we have and given the absolute commitment from all the people I have worked with so far on this, I am confident we can absolutely do what is right for the Suffolk economy and the businesses therein.”

The funding comes from retained business rates paid by Suffolk firms, with decisions on bids set to be made quarterly.

A decision on whether to extend the fund further will be made in June next year.