Pension fund announces £100m investment plan for local SMEs
Published by Anne Marie Hughes on Sat 09 Jun 12 @ 22:11
One of Britain's biggest pension funds will step in to help businesses that are being denied much-needed investment by the country's banks.
Strathclyde Pension Fund, which is administered by Glasgow City Council, confirmed it had created a £100 million New Opportunities Fund; to be invested in local enterprises that are ready to create new jobs.
The fund will be open to businesses based and operating in Glasgow and much of the West of Scotland - taking in the entire former Strathclyde region.
And it will consider any kind of investment package; including loan and equity finance.
Announcing the initiative, Convener of Strathclyde Pension Fund and Glasgow City Treasurer, Cllr Paul Rooney, said it was crucial the fund was able to work with employers struggling to secure support.
"I've spent a lot of time talking to local businesses and it is clear that, even amongst those that have great opportunities to grow, many just can't access the finance they need from banks," he said.
"Despite receiving huge amounts of public money, it appears lenders are sticking too rigidly to strict and inflexible funding criteria, rather than taking the time to properly assess the business plans, ideas and investment potential that so many of our businesses have.
"The New Opportunities Fund I am creating will offer exactly the kind of support these firms tell us they can't get elsewhere.
"In return, I'm looking for a firm commitment to create jobs and sign up to pay Glasgow's Living Wage, which will be good for workers and the local economy."
Applications to the New Opportunities Fund will be thoroughly assessed by a panel of experts and business specialists drawn from both the public and private sectors. Investments will need to deliver a reasonable return for members.
The fund is already expecting interest from certain priority industries - including construction, manufacturing, service to manufacturing, wholesale, transport and distribution, software development, tourism and tourism infrastructure and the service sector.
Cllr Rooney plans to meet with local business early in the New Year to further discuss how the fund can help them not only cope, but flourish in a difficult climate.
He said: "I know there are people in my own ward, and across Glasgow and the West of Scotland, who have to worry every day if their job is safe - or, if they are not in work, they're desperate to get one.
"Tackling that is a priority for me and it should be for every politician in the country.
"That means being innovative and it means taking every chance you have to support skills, apprenticeships and good jobs. That's what my New Opportunities Fund is going to do."