More than 100 businesses from across the North East are pursuing paths into funding, training and apprenticeship support thanks to an event aimed at showcasing the help available to them.
Peterlee Business Park Group held the event to promote the various programmes and pots of money that new and growing SMEs, as well as established firms, can tap into to support their expansion plans.
The event, which was held at East Durham College, featured a panel discussion with experts from the North East LEP, Business and Enterprise Group, the National Apprenticeship Service, Growth Accelerators and North East Finance.
A Q&A session was also held, allowing businesses to quiz the members on how they could best access support from them.
The day also included exhibitors from support organisations in the region including Business Durham, East Durham Business Service, the University of Sunderland, Teesside University, Profound Group, the Manufacturing Advisory Service and Ingeus, who were on hand to promote the programmes they offer.
The area’s MP Grahame Morris was likewise among the attendees, as were employees from Castle Eden Lift Trucks, which supplies trucks to some of the region’s biggest employers.
Director Ian Carr, who runs the business with Paul Dawes, said: “We’re a growing business that’s establishing a significant portfolio of clients across the region so we were really keen to find out what support we can tap into to take things to the next level, especially as access to finance is such a minefield.
“I was really pleased with the advice I was given and have certainly been shown a couple of routes myself and Paul can go down which could give us the support we need to implement our plans.”
The event was organised by Peterlee Business Park Group and sponsored by Business Durham, East Durham College, the University of Sunderland, Teesside University, Grant Thornton, the Environmental Academy, ILD, NBSL, the Personal Group, Business and Enterprise Group, BIG, Anglo Scottish Finance and Catapult.
It was held in direct response to feedback from businesses in the area who were unsure what, if any, funding support was available to them and how they could tap into them.
Steve Metcalfe, HR Manager at NSK Bearings in Peterlee and chairman of the steering group that runs the Peterlee Business Park Group, said: “When we questioned businesses to find out what they were most interested in learning more about, access to finance came out on top and that was evident in the number of businesses who attended our event.
“We wanted to make sure that there was a mix of organisations exhibiting so companies of all sizes and sectors could tap into their expertise and from the feedback we’ve had, our regional businesses now have a much clearer understanding of who to go to depending on what their priorities are, and many of them came away with a real chance to secure financial support on the back of the event.”
Other exhibitors included KF Training, HSBC, The Employability Trust, Utilitywise, TWI Ltd, the Personal Group and Grant Thornton.
Lynsey Carr, who runs graphic design company, Butterfly Creative, from home, but is keen to explore the possibility of creating her own office space, said: “As a sole trader based from home, I didn’t know what to expect from the event but I was pleasantly surprised.
“I spoke to a few different organisations including East Durham Business Service who I am going to sit down with to see what help I could get to give my business a greater profile in the area.”