BUSINESS chiefs in Hampshire hope to create thousands of jobs by bidding for a £38million pot of funding.

They say their bid will provide a shot in the arm to the local economy that will be felt by thousands of businesses and residents.

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a union of business bosses and council leaders, has formally handed in a bid to the European Union for a €46 million (£38 million) grant.

It is part of the LEP’s £2.4billion long-term strategy, which runs until 2020, to create 15,500 jobs in the Solent area as well as funding research and technology for businesses via the region’s colleges and universities.

Following consultation last year, the marine and maritime sectors will get priority for the cash if the Solent application is accepted.

Solent LEP chairman Gary Jeffries said: “We are ambitious for the Solent and keen to see the area deliver on its huge potential. This strategy is a key part of our vision for unlocking that potential and driving growth in the Solent economy.

“This strategy would not have been possible without the passion and commitment of local people and our collaborative approach to tap into it.

“This has been a pioneering process where local people who best understand the area and its needs have been put at the forefront of the process of deciding where to spend public funds to best effect.”

The LEP’s draft strategy was handed in to Government ministers last year, and it has already been given €2.9m from the European Union.

They will find out whether they have been successful in their bid for the £38million later this year.