THOUSANDS of jobs are set to be created in a £93m Government handout to North East firms.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has said his regional growth fund will directly create some 8,500 jobs and 17,000 more in the local supply chain.
As a result the region sees one of the highest number of jobs created, although the cash awarded to the North East overall falls shy of the amounts handed to other areas, including £227m in the North West and £1,134m for 10 firms in the South East. In this second and final round of handouts ministers awarded funding to 50 of the 140 North East firms bidding to the fund. So far nationally only a handful of companies have received money from the first tranche announced at the beginning of the year.
Among those benefiting are Tyneside-based oilfield pipeline company Wellstream. The firm has been awarded £3m, which will be added to significant investment from within Wellstream over the next five years.
Company officials say 122 new jobs will be created as the firm builds on its leading offshore research role.
Science City bosses are also celebrating after seeing £6m handed over for work on Newcastle’s planned home for high-tech research.
Paul Walker, chairman of Newcastle Science City, said: “This is a vote of confidence from Government in our plans for Science City and of its potential to attract new businesses and create the next generation of jobs in Newcastle.”
Blyth’s renewable energy research centre Narec is also due to receive £6m as part of an overall £11m project to create a turbine manufacturing supply industry.
The funding comes after the Government scrapped regional development agencies last year. The quango One North East previously had around £220m a year to spend on job creation, more than double the cash announced yesterday.
Gateshead Council leader Mick Henry last night welcomed the latest investment, but warned the coalition there was still more to be done for the North East.
He said: “While the help provided to so many businesses across the region is encouraging, there is still a lot to do before funding of this nature can fill the gap left by the dissolution of One North East. It is disappointing that there are still a number of public sector organisations, small to medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs that were overlooked in round one and still remain unfunded.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was pleased to announce more successful bids for support from the regional growth fund.
He said: “Last week I saw for myself how companies in the North East are benefiting from the regional growth fund. The regional growth fund is a boost to business, which will jump-start growth and create jobs that last in the places that really need it.”
Minister praises growth fund campaign
BUSINESS Minister Mark Prisk has hailed The Journal’s Let’s Grow campaign aiming to create hundreds of jobs.
He spoke out after the Government approved a bid from 11 companies for money from the regional growth fund brought together by The Journal and our sister title on Teesside, the Evening Gazette, as part of our Let’s Grow campaign.
The application for more than £3m was handed in with the intention of creating nearly 500 jobs earlier this year, working with the Business and Enterprise Group and Newcastle-based accountants UNW.
The news came after the Government yesterday announced successful applications from a second round of bids for cash from the regional growth fund.
Mr Prisk said: "For small and medium-sized enterprises there’s been a natural anxiety that although 70% of SMEs are getting finance from the banks, 30% are not.
"And clearly The Journal is well-placed to be a good standard bearer to explain to SMEs the alternatives available in finance .
"And these are practical projects that can make a huge difference. So I very much welcome The Journal’s role in this, together with their partners in the area
"Because I think again one of the messages that we want to get across to SMEs is that banks are a key part of access to finance, but they are not the only part."
The Conservative minister also told The Journal that the Government was working to have more banks, community finance projects, and co-investment funds.
Mr Prisk said there were "some really good news stories out there" – particularly in industry and manufacturing, where businesses said their order books were strong.
He said 119 bids had been successful out of a total of 492 applications, with a further 10 still under discussion. And that would see 37,000 jobs directly supported or created, with another 164,000 through the supply chain across the country.
The minister also said the scheme had actually unlocked around £6bn of private money, meaning half the schemes from round one were already underway – but declined to give specific dates for grants to be handed out.
Asked if there would be disappointment from groups not getting funding, Mr Prisk said: "What it shows is that actually this is a very popular scheme that businesses have wanted to try and be part of that."