Journal fund has created thousands of jobs around the North East

The Let’s Grow Fund has invested £30m and either created or safeguarded more than 3,500 jobs

Stephane Catherine of Ubisoft
Stephane Catherine of Ubisoft

We're halfway there... but there’s more to do!

Since the Let’s Grow Fund was set up two years ago, we have invested £30m and either created or safeguarded more than 3,500 jobs.

The fund – facilitated by a partnership between Trinity Mirror, BE Group and UNW – was set up to invest the Regional Growth Fund in companies which have the aspiration and capability to expand and create sustainable jobs, but which require some grant support to help them realise their plans.

The fund is supporting businesses of all sizes, right across the North East.

So far almost half of the £60m we received has been committed, bringing in nearly £200m in outside investment.

The money has gone to companies in all parts of the North East, from Northumberland down to the Tees Valley, and has benefited companies working in sectors including manufacturing, engineering, pharmaceuticals and digital.

Companies as diverse as large corporates through to not-for-profit businesses have benefited, though the funds have mostly been invested in small and medium-sized firms. But the project is not complete and we still have another £30m to allocate.

ncjMedia managing director Stuart Birkett said: “Let’s Grow has been a fantastic success. To have created or safeguarded so many jobs is exactly what we hoped to do when we set out on the project.

“We want to keep that success going and we know that many companies around the region are looking at growing their businesses. The fund is there to help out in those projects and we very much want to see new applications.”

Among the major successes of the scheme so far is the decision of computer games giant Ubisoft to site its customer relationship centre on the Newcastle Business Park after receiving a Let’s Grow grant.

Low-carbon innovator Sevcon created highly-skilled jobs at its Gateshead base after receiving funding and world-leading technology firm Tracerco created 69 jobs after a £1m grant helped it open a £9m R&D centre in Billingham.

The other success of Let’s Grow has been in the standard of jobs it has created, with average salary currently around £29,000.

BE Group’s Nicki Clark said: “The impact that has been achieved to date is tremendous and of significant value to the North East economy. Projects range from significant infrastructure development to research and development, underpinning immediate growth plans as well as laying the foundations for the future.

“We must continue to maximise the potential that the Let’s Grow programme brings by ensuring that we identify potential projects for the future so I would urge all to come forward and speak to the team at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Let’s Grow provides support for capital investment and R&D projects that will create new and sustainable jobs in the North East. Grants are available to businesses of all sizes, with higher levels of support available to SMEs.

The programme supports investment projects of £200,000 or more which will be completed by March 2017.

Projects must meet the eligibility criteria of the programme and are also judged on their levels of impact and value for money.

Let’s Grow is run as a series of quarterly competitions, with expressions of interest for the next round of grants needed by the endof July and full applications byAugust 28.

For more information about the scheme, interested companies can ring 0191 426 6408, email letsgrow@be-group.co.uk or go to www.thejournal.co.uk/all-about/lets-grow .

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