£40m fund launched to deliver business infrastructure in wake of the pandemic

Businesses looking to grow in, or relocate to, Warwickshire now have access to £40m of financial support as the latest pillar of an economy-boosting initiative goes live.

The Property and Infrastructure Fund (PIF) is the third and final strand of the Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund – a £100m initiative to provide access to debt finance and help safeguard businesses from adverse economic effects caused by the pandemic.

The focus of the PIF is on supporting and enabling new development that will help provide sites and premises needed to drive the future growth of the local economy and, with ambitions that match the county council’s goals on reducing emissions, to build on the strong links the county has established in low carbon fields such as digital creative, electric vehicle development and battery manufacturing.

The £40m fund will be managed by CBRE following a competitive procurement process, providing loans of £2m-£10m to support commercial projects, with repayment terms available up to five years. Eligible developments include office, industrial and warehouse developments and refurbishments, new housing projects offering innovative sustainability solutions, early-stage infrastructure funding and mixed-use schemes.

Cllr Martin Watson, portfolio holder for economy at Warwickshire County Council, said: “The council recognises many businesses will have had to invest significantly to adapt and survive through the pandemic and beyond, and may struggle to access the finance they need to recover fully and prosper in the current climate.

“Banks and mainstream lenders are likely to be more risk-averse in the near-term, restricting the availability of development finance which is already constrained in the local economy. The county council is prudent with finances which has put us in the position to step in and use our money to stop this situation in the lending chain from becoming an obstacle for economic growth in the county.”

The PIF is the final section of the wider £100m Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund initiative to launch. The other two funds are the Business Investment and Growth, which provides £50m in loans for medium/larger businesses in growth sectors, and the Local Communities and Enterprise fund, which will deploy £10m in small loans for micro and small businesses as well as social enterprises.

Most of the funds will be available in the form of secured senior loans, however other forms of finance such as mezzanine debt will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

George Richards, senior director of investment advisory at CBRE, said: “The Property and Infrastructure Fund is a flexible investment scheme that can be deployed to help the development of new land or commercial space to support employment and the growth of Warwickshire’s economy.

“Our focus is on supporting new development that will help provide the land and premises needed to drive the future growth of the regional economy. Funding is available to new development opportunities as well as companies wanting premises to grow within, or relocate to, the county and will be linked to supporting growth in key priority sectors: automotive technology; digital creative and digital technologies; future of mobility; low carbon technologies; R&D and innovation facilities; and new start-up incubator and accelerator space.”

Richards added that other priority sectors would be considered including retail, hospitality, culture, leisure, health and wellbeing, community-based enterprises, co-working/flexible workspace as well as health and social care facilities.

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