Business leaders in Cumbria have welcomed the £345 million funding pledge for The Borderlands Growth Deal.

After the frustration of no announcement in the Autumn Budget, the economy-boosting project received a double whammy of funding commitments on Wednesday – first, an £85m pledge from the Scottish government, followed hours later by £206m announced in the Chancellors Spring Statement.

Businesses across the region have thrown their support behind The Borderlands, which looks to transform the economy either side of the England-Scotland border.

The money is to be split across a variety of initiatives ranging from energy, digital, transport infrastructure, rural productivity, business support, skills, and promoting the region as a place to live, work and visit.

The Borderlands Partnership, which includes local councils, said the investment could mean thousands of new job opportunities, millions of extra tourists to the area, improved digital connectivity and unlocking investment in towns across the region generating a predicted £1.3bn return on the Governments’ investment.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce said the funding should unlock improvements to transport and broadband infrastructure that businesses have long been calling for.

“This is a real opportunity for Cumbria,” he said.

“The Borderlands Proposition, as put forward by the participating local authorities, makes the case for improvements to the A69 and A595, a regeneration scheme around the Citadel in Carlisle, faster broadband and a feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.

“These are welcome initiatives and, while they won’t happen overnight, the Growth Deal brings them closer. It should unlock significant private-sector investment too.”

Managing director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, said the funding announcement was “great news and well-deserved”. 

“Cumbria Tourism has worked closely with Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council and other key stakeholders to support the development of the proposal, particularly around Destination Borderlands,” she said.

“The commitment from all those parties involved has been plain to see and we look forward to continuing to work closely together to collectively support delivery of the  benefits across Cumbria and the wider Borderlands region.”