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Furness Enterprise, which for over 20 years has helped businesses in the Furness area create/safeguard over 14,000 jobs and which latterly has helped 1,300 unemployed individuals back into work, is being forced to close at the end of August due to the unprecedented economic conditions it faces. The resources for regeneration are less than 30% of what they were. Decisions on the allocation of what regeneration resources remain are being taken centrally in Whitehall and the shutting down of both the NW Regional Development Agency and the Urban Regeneration Company, Barrow Regeneration, has made the current funding environment by far the worst in Furness Enterprises 21 years of operation. Significant and ongoing efforts to obtain alternative funding has not proved fruitful; funding applications have been made to the Regional Growth Fund and the Big Lottery, but the competition for these funds has been ferocious. All 18 staff at Furness Enterprise will be made redundant with the company shutting down at the end of August unless new funding is obtained before then, which currently looks unlikely.
Harry Knowles Chief Executive of Furness Enterprise said "It is ironic that in the midst of the most difficult economic conditions we have experienced for decades with large numbers of people looking for work, very limited vacancies and with other regeneration and business support organisations shutting down, we are having to close. It is clear that the Government has moved away from a focus on deprived areas like Barrow to what it sees as areas of opportunity. Also the closure of the NW Regional Development Agency, our local Urban Regeneration Company, Barrow Regeneration, and the removal of the significant funding that was available has had a massive negative impact on our ability to carry on our work of helping businesses and unemployed people. With our closure there will be little or no free of charge support to help people set up sustainable new businesses, companies will struggle to get support for their investment opportunities, and unemployed individuals will not get the intensive support we provide. Our closure, due to lack of resources, will impact on a very deprived area, with a community and businesses that deserve better, together with the redundancy of an effective and experienced team. Obviously I personally am bitterly disappointed that the closure decision has happened but there was no alternative given the current poor funding situation. What we are seeing around the country is many local economic and social support organisations having to drastically cut back or close. My team will continue to look for funds to sustain Furness Enterprises activities, as we always have, but the current funding environment is by far the worse I have known in 21 years of operation."
Steve Murray, Chair of Furness Enterprise said "This is a very sad day. The Board of Directors wants to pay tribute to the Furness Enterprise team for all that they have achieved and to thank all our partners for their support over the years. These are unprecedented economic conditions we face and it just was not possible to continue."