Newspapers are used to launches. We launch things regularly . . . campaigns, appeals, that sort of thing. And we like to celebrate whenever we can.
I don’t think, however, that we have ever had one event that was both a celebration AND a launch.
That is what we are doing as we celebrate the success of the Let’s Grow campaign’s £30m of grant funding and launch the opening of our second series of competitions with another £30m cash pot.
Let’s Grow is a scheme spearheaded by The Journal and sister title The Gazette and run in partnership with the BE Group and UNW, which has been successful three times in bidding for money from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
We use that money to literally help companies grow - awarding anything from £50,000 to £1m towards the costs of investment projects.
We were set some pretty tough targets but the good news is we are on course to surpass every one.
The weighted average salary of the jobs created or safeguarded was more than £29,000, an indication of the level of jobs we are helping to create.
The Regional Growth Fund wanted us to create or safeguard 3,000 jobs – we are on course to beat that target by 700.
They were looking for our grants to leverage £120m of private sector investment – we will leverage £190m.
We received 270 expressions of interest from companies for the first £30m of Let’s Grow funding.
That led to 186 applications being considered by our experienced Investment Panel - you’ll read more about them later in this supplement - and 102 awards with the average grant around £280,000.
SMEs were the main beneficiaries with 83% of the awards going to them and 17% to large companies.
There was a good geographical spread with 39% of the successful companies based in Tyneside, 34% in County Durham and Wearside, 22% in the Tees Valley and 5% in Northumberland.
Manufacturing and engineering companies figured large in the awards but there was also a significant number of successes in the chemical and pharmaceutical sector, IT and telecoms, oil and gas, renewables and service industries.
So you can see why we are so keen to celebrate our success.
On the next few pages you will read of companies who have been helped by Let’s Grow funds, the people and organisations who are vital to the scheme’s success, the investment panel, what we are looking for, how to apply for funding and what makes a good application.
Well, this is a launch as well, remember.
Click on the pages below to read the supplement in full, or CLICK HERE, to open in a new window.