Firms across West Sussex can bid for a share of a £600,000 fund for small and medium size businesses.
More than 100 applications have been made by people either looking to start a new company, or to grow an existing one.
They can bid for a maximum of £30,000 from West Sussex County Council (WSCC), which has to be match funded.
Applications have come from a wide range of sectors ranging from leisure and outdoor activities to manufacturing, publishing and digital.
WSCC leader Louise Goldsmith said: “There has been a really positive response to this new initiative and it bodes well for the economy of our county.
“The number and range of applications shows a real aspiration from businesses to grow, with many looking to create new jobs as well as retain existing ones.”
Decisions on which applications have been successful are expected before the end of the year.
The ‘Be The Business’ programme, launched in August, also includes business support activities, grants to employers to take on Higher Apprentices, and a Business Start-up and Grow grant scheme.
Louise said: “The aim of ‘Be The Business’ is to drive the levels of entrepreneurship, productivity and employment growth in our county, and we want it to be a major contributor to our economic strategy between now and 2020.”
For more details on the programme visit http://www.bethebusiness.org/