IT IS fantastic to see the Fastest 50 hit its landmark tenth year celebrating the success of the North-East.
The Fastest 50 recognises the rising business stars of our region and has become an important showcase for the North-East’s leading firms. Our business community has gone from strength to strength over the past decade, with companies like The Engineering Business Limited, Shepherd Offshore Services Limited and Parsons Brinckerhoff Holdings Limited, amongst others, leading the way and becoming an inspiration to fledgling firms.
May I take this opportunity to congratulate the 50 companies listed here today and wish them every success for the future. It is wonderful to see The Journal and Ward Hadaway recognising the achievements of these rapidly growing companies and giving them the public credit they deserve.
The past 12 months have seen a host of achievements for the region and I consider myself fortunate in my role at One NorthEast to be able to share in some of these successes. Earlier this year, I attended the announcement that the North-East’s largest call centre operator, C.J.Garland & Co Ltd, is expanding to open a new contact centre in South Shields in February next year, creating 800 new jobs.
Over 1,000 people could eventually work at the site, a fantastic boost for South Tyneside and I am delighted to say that One NorthEast awarded a £600,000 Selective Finance for Investment grant to aid this growth.
The centre will be located at an attractive waterfront site on Market Dock North on the southern bank of the River Tyne. It will be fully equipped to the same high standards as Garland’s existing centres in Hartlepool Marina, Middlesbrough and Stockton, including state-of-the-art voice and data technologies and advanced training facilities.
I was also delighted to see internationally renowned clothing brand Barbour on the list of Fastest 50 companies, helping to spearhead the growth of our local manufacturing
The South Shields-based company was one of the first firms in the region to benefit from the expertise of the North East Productivity Alliance (NEPA), funded by One NorthEast, the European Social Fund and Learning and Skills Council.
NEPA provides manufacturing businesses with the advice of world class engineers to help boost productivity. Barbour received training from NEPA experts on how to introduce lean manufacturing techniques – adapted from the Japanese car industry – on to its shop floor. This resulted in major cost savings and reduced work absence rates.
One NorthEast and its partners play a crucial role in supporting businesses, working with companies so that they develop to their full potential.
This includes support through Business Link North East, help from our team of business finance experts providing financial assistance to firms in the form of grant support and guidance to potential new investors.
I am delighted the achievements of the region’s firms are being recognised through the Fastest 50. We have a bright future ahead and I look forward to the continued rapid growth of our most innovative and bold companies.
Margaret Fay is chairman of regional development agency One NorthEast.