HOPES the Isle of Wight could be in line for millions of pounds in extra funding have been boosted today (Wednesday).
The Island has been included on a draft map to be considered for Assisted Area Status (AAS), which could unlock vital funding.
It follows the Island's reponse to a government consultation on which areas should qualify for AAS from 2014 to 2020.
A second stage of consultation is due to start soon, during which areas will be able to build on their case.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will consider the responses, before UK ministers agree the final areas, which will be submitted to the European Commission — the executive body of the European Union — to ensure they meet European state aid rules.
The new Assisted Areas are expected to be in effect from July 1, 2014.
*In a joint statement issued today (Wednesday) by the Isle of Wight Council and MP Andrew Turner, the breakthrough was said to have been made following a meeting with the Minister for Business and Enterprise, Michael Fallon in July.
A submission from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was made on behalf of the Island and with considerable input from the council and partners, the statement said.
It set out the detailed economic case for the Island to be recognised, as it faced greater economic challenges than other areas in the south east.
Ian Stephens, Isle of Wight Council leader, said: "We are delighted that the Isle of Wight has been included in the Government’s initial report.
"Assisted Area Status is one of the significant things we pursued vigorously in the early months of our administration.
"Its achievement is one of the council’s main priorities and we have worked hard with partners since May to convince the government the Island has a special case.
"We hope that by attracting inward investment and support for local businesses through Assisted Area Status, we will be in a stronger position to help create new jobs and grow the Island's economy. We recognise that this is only a draft report which could be subject to change, but we will continue to lobby the government and push the Island's case for Assisted Area Status."
Mr Turner said: "This is great news for the Island and testament to the work of all of us who have been campaigning together for a common cause.
"The hard work that has been put in by the Isle of Wight Council, the Solent LEP, the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, the TUC and so many other organisations is paying off."
Kevin Smith, chief executive of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, added: "This is fantastic news for the Isle of Wight as it is something we have been working on for the last ten years in collaboration with our Island MP and Isle of Wight Council and this moves us closer to getting the recognition that the Island has worked so hard to achieve and will bring benefit to the entire Island community."