More than 1,600 jobs are expected to be created in Leeds and Bradford over the next year as a result of £1.5m of government ‘connection voucher’ grants awarded to more than 800 small businesses in the two cities since February.
The funding covers the costs of installing high-speed internet connectivity, as part of the Superconnected Cities programme.
Leeds and Bradford have experienced the UK’s highest take-up rates outside London for the vouchers, which are worth up to £3,000 to each business.
According to SMEs that have signed up for the scheme, each business that has gained access to super-fast internet services expects to create an average of 2.1 new jobs over the following 12 months as a result of the faster web infrastructure, with turnover predicted to rise by an average of £148,000.
News that the Super Connected Cities programme has been extended beyond the original cut-off point of March 2015 has been welcomed by council chiefs in Leeds and Bradford. The announcement, made as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, will allow funding continue until March 2016, with an additional £40m available nationally.
Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for transport and the economy, said: “We are seeing escalating application rates for the vouchers as word spreads about just how transformational the step up to high-speed internet can be for smaller businesses.
“That’s having a knock-on positive economic impact as companies maximise their potential to become more productive and efficient.”
You can read more about the Super Connected Cities Scheme here.