THE ISLAND looks set to benefit from millions of pounds of extra funding after it was confirmed the government had approved calls to award area assisted status (AAS) to 28 out of 39 electoral areas.
The proposed map of areas to receive AAS support has been sent to the European Commission for final approval and is due to take effect in July.
Steve Butler of the Isle of Wight Trades Union Council (IWTUC), which had campaigned for the status for more than two years, said they were delighted by the decision and it was now up to businesses to take advantage of the opportunity.
The status, which lasts for seven years, will allow the government to award additional funding and tax breaks to support economic development.
MP Andrew Turner, who organised a meeting between himself, business minister Michael Fallon, Isle of Wight Council leader Cllr Ian Stephens and Isle of Wight Association of Local Councils (IWALC) representative Harry Rees, to discuss the Island's case last year, said the announcement was the result of all parties working together.
He said: "This is a real opportunity for growth on the Island, but it won't just happen; Island businesses and entrepreneurs need to come up with plans that will bring jobs and growth to the local economy. I will now be working with the council and the government to ensure that information is made available about how businesses can access the help and capital that will become available through this announcement."
He added that although not all the Island had been awarded the AAS status, the funding opportunities would benefit the whole community.
Mr Butler said a last minute application by Portsmouth for AAS had led to concern the Island might miss out and they were delighted by today's (Wednesday) announcement.
"What we need now are the projects. We need the businesses that are here to take this on board and make the most of this opportunity," he said.
Isle of Wight electoral divisions included in the map are :
Binstead and Fishbourne
Brading, St. Helens and Bembridge
Cowes South and Northwood
Cowes West and Gurnard
Havenstreet, Ashey and Haylands
Nettlestone and Seaview
Ryde North East
Ryde North West