Both Southwark and Lambeth councils have submitted bids for funding from the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI).
Southwark Council's ambitious £80 million bid aims to make Southwark "a centre of excellence for entrepreneurs".
The proposal will be focussed on three areas – encouraging local people especially young people to see the potential for business in Southwark, supporting existing local traders and promoting the most deprived areas of the borough as great bases for new entrepreneurs.
"The investment would strengthen the local businesses we already have, develop new ones with potential, and help try to rescue those which are struggling," says Cllr Richard Thomas, Southwark's executive member for regeneration. "We want Southwark to thrive because of the success of local people, not because it is the base for big companies who ship in staff from elsewhere."
Lambeth Council's bid aims to bring £30 million into the borough to support small businesses and entrepreneurs. Lambeth's bid partners include Shell UK, Coin Street Community Builders and Lambeth College.
"There is a greater potential for enterprise in Lambeth than in any other part of the country" says Iain Tuckett, director of Coin Street Community Builders, one of the UK's most successful social enterprises.
Shell London chairman Andrew Eddy added: "Shell is delighted to be associated with Lambeth's LEGI bid. We and our colleagues in the South Bank Employers' Group are always keen to see more resources coming into the borough and especially in this case – supporting young entrepreneurs is an important theme of Shell's own programmes and we must work closely together to generate opportunities for young people in Lambeth, especially in its most deprived areas."
This autumn a regional and national panel will shortlist the bids. If Lambeth or Southwark gets through to the national level stage the bid teams will present the bid to the judging panel from the government and the private sector. The results of the bid will be known by the winter of 2006/7.