THOUSANDS of jobs will be created or safeguarded after The Journal successfully led a bid to secure £30m to help North East companies expand.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg led the chorus of praise for our Let's Grow campaign as its latest bid for cash from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) was approved today.
Business leaders and politicians also hailed the good news, with the £30m being used for a three-year campaign to provide grants worth £50,000 to £1m on a quarterly basis. It will be focused on small and medium sized firms, but will be available to larger companies in the appropriate circumstances.
The programme will offer support for private sector capital investment, research and development as well as training activities.
It hopes to create or safeguard 3,500 jobs and pull in £120m of private sector investment.
The finishing touches will now be applied to the scheme and get it through the process of due diligence in the run-up to Christmas so it can be launched next year.
The campaign has been run with the Evening Gazette, our sister title on Teesside, our partners from accountancy firm UNW and the Business and Enterprise Group, as well as Northumbria University and Teesside University.
Leading business organisations, the North Eastern and Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnerships, and the region’s local authorities backed the campaign.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m delighted that The Journal has been successful in securing investment from this £1bn round of the Regional Growth Fund. The Journal is essential reading in Newcastle, so the paper is well placed to find the very best of the North East’s small business owners looking to grow their firms.”
Journal Editor Brian Aitken said: “This has been a real team effort and we are delighted it has been successful.
“We look forward to inviting growing companies from across the North East to apply to the fund.”
Neville Bearpark, corporate finance partner at UNW, who project managed the bid, said the £30m award would provide the business community with tangible support for investment projects over the next three years.
He said: “The support of the region’s two LEPs and 12 local authorities, as well as Teesside and Northumbria Universities must also be recognised, as they demonstrated how the whole region can pull together and present Government with a compelling case for support.”
Alastair MacColl, chief executive of the Business and Enterprise Group, which provides business support services, said: “This uniquely ambitious initiative will help to generate private sector growth and jobs on the kind of scale that we need.
“Quite simply, it will play a major role in unlocking the enormous potential we have in the North East of England.”
Guy Opperman, Conservative MP for Hexham, said: “This is wonderful news and great credit to everyone behind the application and further proof that funds, support and efforts are being made to revitalise the North East economy.”
Edward Twiddy, chief executive of the North East LEP said: “We’re delighted that The Journal consortium’s Let’s Grow campaign, has won funding from round three of the Regional Growth Fund.
“Its focus on smaller manufacturing businesses across the North East is to be welcomed and it will drive growth by creating jobs in sectors of strategic importance to our economy.”
Ross Smith, policy director at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s fantastic news. The Journal has led the way yet again in pulling together a really innovative bid, which will make sure the Regional Growth Fund can be applied around a series of smaller business with exciting potential for growth.”
Sarah Green, regional director of the CBI, added: “This is a great example of the convening power of the regional media, bringing together and acting as a collective to secure critical growth funding for regional business creating new jobs and business investment.”