Emda is praised for backing business in recession

The East Midlands Development Agency (Emda) - which is being scrapped - has been praised for helping businesses during the recession.

The National Audit Office said Emda had performed strongly in making more than £10m available to firms who could not get loans elsewhere.

The agency claimed it had helped nearly 60 businesses survive the downturn.

The Regional Development Agencies are to be replaced in 2012 by more locally based enterprise bodies.

Jobs 'saved'

The Audit Office was commissioned by the previous government to look at how Emda was performing in three areas - delivering projects in the recession, implementing in-house improvement plans and monitoring value for money.

Inspectors said it had performed strongly in all areas.

It particularly praised its early reaction to the credit crunch, including financial support for businesses through the £3m Enterprise Loans East Midlands fund, the £1m Business Transformation Grant programme and the £6m Transition Loan Fund.

Emda estimated the Transition Loan Fund alone, which was available to small and medium sized businesses, had created or safeguarded more than 1,000 jobs.

Enterprise Partnerships

One of the firms helped was Nottingham-based Doff Portland, which makes insecticides.

Lorna Page, from the company, said: "It was very important for us, at a time when banks are making it more difficult for businesses to move around and get the funding they need.

"The Transition Loan Fund was very important for us to make that move and build a future here for the business."

Emda's chief executive, Jeff Moore, said he was pleased the report, known as Independent Supplementary Review, had recognised their work.

"We are delighted that Emda has received the highest possible score of 'strong' for all three criteria assessed in the ISR, demonstrating the important role we have played in supporting the East Midlands' economy, particularly through the recent economic downturn."

The Regional Development Agencies are to be replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships.

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