£57m handed to North East in regional growth fund cash

Smaller North East firms are to create thousands of jobs thanks to The Journal's Let's Grow campaign

Danny Lawson/PA Wire Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

The North East is today handed £57m of Regional Growth Fund cash as the Deputy Prime Minister backs bids to create hundreds of jobs.

Thousands more jobs are expected to be safeguarded after the latest round of the Government’s flagship job creation pot was announced.

Among the 11 projects in the North East set to be handed funds is a £30m Let’s Grow bid by The Journal, business services group BE Group and accountants UNW.

The Journal fund will help smaller firms bid for cash. They would otherwise have missed out on Government help as a result of a £1m minimum bid rule.

It is the second time the Let’s Grow fund has been handed £30m. The first fund was launched 18 months ago and so far £25m has been awarded to more than 60 businesses across the North East, creating or safeguarding 3,000 jobs.

Jobs created in the first round of funding include highly skilled science and engineering roles with an average salary of more than £30,000 a year.

Nick Clegg last night said he was pleased that over five rounds of the fund so far, the North East had secured £320m, although there has been concerns at the time it has taken to hand over the money.

He said: “The North East has seen major benefits from the Regional Growth Fund already, and the £57m investment I am announcing today is the latest important part in making sure the recovery is sustainable and balanced across the country.

“We’re seeing very encouraging signs that the British economy is on the road to recovery. Home-grown and British-based businesses are leading that charge for a stronger economy.

“The Regional Growth Fund gives businesses a helping hand from Government to fuel business expansion and create sustainable employment.

“I pay tribute to the ambitious companies who are using the Regional Growth Fund to create jobs locally, helping to build a stronger economy and doing it fairly.”

Nationally the Government is investing £300m in 50 projects.

Journal editor Brian Aitken said: “I am pleased that The Journal has again been awarded £30m to make a real difference to North East firms. We have already over-achieved in the first Let’s Grow campaign and we look forward to continued success creating jobs in the second round.”

BE Group chief executive Alastair MacColl said: “This is magnificent news for the region. As the economy picks up we expect to see a greater need for investment on the part of the smaller businesses and, if that recovery is to be sustainable and momentum maintained, we have to have the funds in place to support growth plans.” Neville Bearpark, UNW Corporate Finance partner, said: “The award of a further £30m for the Let’s Grow programme ensures that the North East’s SMEs will continue to have access to valuable grant support towards capital investment.

“As our first programme has demonstrated, Let’s Grow has been instrumental in unlocking private-sector finance during difficult economic times.”

Other North East winners in today’s announcement include Durham metal work firm Hydram Engineering, Cleveland Potash and engineering design firm Cummins.

Also awarded funds are Fine Industries, Gestamp Tallent, Huntsman Polyurethanes (UK), JDR Cable Systems, Johnson Matthey Davy Technologies, Tinsley Special Products and TRW Systems.

Tinsley Special Products received £3.5m in round five to purchase land and build a new manufacturing facility at Peterlee, which will greatly increase production capacity and create 86 new jobs. The company received £2.9m in previous rounds and created 63 jobs.

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