THE Journal is to spearhead a £30m bid to drive business growth across the North East, potentially creating more than 2,500 jobs.
Today we unveil details of the second phase of our Let’s Grow campaign, one of the most ambitious bids yet to the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF).
If successful, it would lead to the creation of a three-year campaign to provide funding to growing businesses of all sizes across the North East.
The Journal and its sister paper on Teesside, the Evening Gazette, secured more than £3m in funding from the last round of RGF on behalf of 11 North East firms.
We have once again teamed up with our partners from accountancy firm UNW and the Business and Enterprise Group to devise our new RGF programme bid. Northumbria University and Teesside University are also now part of the team.
If successful, the programme could become the single biggest source of grant support available to North East firms for the next three years.
Funding would be made available on a quarterly basis and applications would be judged by an independent panel of senior business leaders.
The project is supported by leading business organisations, including the North East Chamber of Commerce and the CBI.
It is also backed by the North Eastern and Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnerships and the region’s local authorities.
Last night Journal editor Brian Aitken said he was proud the newspaper was leading such an exciting project.
“If this bid is successful, it will be one of the most significant developments in the recent history of this newspaper, underlining its position at the heart of the North East business community,” he said.
“I am confident that with the quality of the partners we have brought together and the strength of support from across the private and public sectors, ministers will find it very difficult to say no to this application.”
Alastair MacColl, chief executive of the Business and Enterprise Group, the North East-based supplier of services to businesses nationwide, said: “This unique bid is quite simply designed to accelerate the creation of jobs, prosperity and growth in the North East. It’s supported by an ambitious coalition of partners who want to put investment where it will make a difference. Our business community will do the rest.”
Neville Bearpark, corporate finance partner at UNW, and adviser on the first Let’s Grow bid, said: “If RGF programme bids like this are not successful, the North East’s SMEs are faced with the prospect of little direct grant support from Government for the foreseeable future, whereas if the programme is successful it has the potential to stimulate the creation of over 2,500 new jobs.
“We would encourage any business considering capital investment and job creation in the next year to contact The Journal with details of their project to see whether it could be incorporated into the bid.”