Digbeth project is first to be awarded cash-injection from HS2 Business Funds in the West Midlands

  • ‘Connect Digbeth’, a project from the Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs CIC is the first in Birmingham to benefit from HS2’s Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF).
  • HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani met leaders from the Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs CIC in Digbeth to discuss how the £73,887 funding will benefit the local community.
  • Over £1.9m in funding has been awarded to local communities since the Fund launched nationally in February 2017, which has been created to provide additional support for local businesses impacted by HS2.

Birmingham based Community Interest Company (CIC), the Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs, has been awarded the first grant in the region from the HS2 Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF). The Fund supports local businesses that are demonstrably disrupted by the construction of Phase One of the brand new high speed railway which is being built between London and the West Midlands.

Connect Digbeth is a project that will support 50 social enterprises and third sector organisations near the new high-speed line to sustain and grow through developing partnerships, improved financial planning, the restructuring of business plans and contingency planning during and beyond the construction of HS2.

The £73,887 grant will enable the Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs CIC to employ a community-based business advisor at the established Digbeth Social Enterprise Hub on Moseley Road. They will provide one-to-one business advice and support and promote social enterprise development that will ensure social enterprises and small community businesses can maintain activity through the HS2 construction phase and build sustainable networks that will continue to sustain and promote social enterprise.

HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani met with the Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs to understand the difference that the Funds are making to local people living and working along the route of HS2.

HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani said:

“HS2 will provide the backbone of our future rail network, improving vital connections between our cities and delivering better journeys for passengers. It is also boosting prosperity and driving forward economic growth, with 7,000 jobs already created and 2,000 businesses already winning work with the project.

“Whilst we know there will be disruption as we deliver one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects, the Business and Local Economy Fund will aim to support affected businesses throughout the construction period, ensuring they share in the benefits.

“I am delighted that the first projects have now received almost £150,000 of deserved investment, and I encourage more organisations to come forward to apply for a share of this significant funding.”

Simon Veasey, Director of Business Development at Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs, said:  

“Through our Connect Digbeth project delivery, we will build sustainable networks that will provide a long-term legacy in the locality, further developing the vibrant culture of independent enterprise and community activity in Digbeth. Initial feedback from our network of social enterprises and local businesses has been very encouraging and recognises the positive action taken by HS2 through the construction phase.”

Cathy Elliott, Independent Chair of CEF and BLEF, said:

“It is great to see the HS2 Funds reach the mark of over £1.9 million awarded, especially by supporting early stage BLEF kick-starter projects. BLEF is available to support local economies that are demonstrably affected by the construction of HS2.

“I encourage other business communities near to the line of route to apply in partnership for funding, and look forward to seeing more projects come to fruition and to see first-hand how the funding is really benefiting local communities.”

Graham Duxbury, national CEO of Groundwork UK, said:

“It’s exciting to see the first BLEF project in Birmingham that will help to support local businesses to thrive during the HS2 Phase One construction.

“We look forward to seeing more projects come to fruition and to see first-hand how the funding is greatly benefiting local communities.”

A combined total of £45 million of government funding has been made available to local communities and businesses disrupted by the construction of Phase One and Phase 2a of HS2 through two schemes – the Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF). The Funds for Phase One, administered by community charity Groundwork UK, support urban and rural, community, environmental and business projects.

The visit coincided with the announcement that £1,920,426 has been awarded to local community projects since the HS2 Funds opened in February 2017.

A full list of projects that have been funded can be found on the HS2 Interactive Map.

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