DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said the North East must not repeat the mistakes of the past as he toured a recipient of the Regional Growth Fund cash.
Mr Clegg was at Stockton-based Nifco, which makes small plastic parts for cars, and will use the funding to support its expansion.
This will involve the building of a new manufacturing facility and a research and development centre with private- sector investment to create further jobs in the North East.
Mr Clegg said economic recovery needed new solutions and past mistakes must not be repeated.
He said: “No one could be happy with where we are at. We want to see recovery happen quicker, not only in the North East but in the country as a whole.
“We are healing from a huge, huge shock which hit the country very hard back in 2008 when the banks – from Northern Rock to RBS – basically blew up in our face. We are still recovering from that.
“The only way to recover from that shock in the North East is not to repeat the mistakes of the past, not to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, but to do new things.
“That’s what the Regional Growth Fund is about.” He was visiting Nifco after it was announced it had won RGF money for a second time, creating and securing jobs.
The firm’s successful first-round RGF bid involved a £11m investment, creating 128 new jobs and sustaining a further 158 jobs.
Yesterday we revealed The Journal’s Let’s Grow campaign was one of the big winners from round three of the RGF after scooping £30m to help North East firms expand.
The award is expected to create or safeguard 3,500 jobs and pull in some £120m of private investment.
Mr Clegg led the praise for the initiative, saying The Journal was “well placed to find the very best of the North East’s small business owners looking to grow their firms”.
The Let’s Grow bid was one of 29 North East RGF bids to succeed, which are expected to create or safeguard 37,000 jobs in the region.
Across the country, Mr Clegg said there were more than 400 applications, and around £700m will go to private firms and a further £358m to local authorities and enterprise partnerships.
Around 130 projects will benefit from £1bn released from the Fund, which is expected to attract £6bn of private sector investment.
He added: “I have seen for myself the real difference this makes on the ground – from iconic businesses like Eddie Stobart expanding in Widnes and creating 3,450 jobs in the local area, to the Sunderland car parts factory Unipres who have used their funding to buy a new 3,000-tonne press, letting them accelerate production and take on an extra 316 people. The Regional Growth Fund is working, on track and supporting businesses, to create jobs and grow the economy.”
John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ”We are pleased that the £1bn promised for the third round of the Regional Growth Fund has been allocated to projects that will spur business investment and job creation in the regions.
“However, pace is critical. Many RGF projects have been delayed by bureaucratic hurdles, meaning that they have not yet started to have an impact on the ground. Some bidders have even withdrawn, meaning that over £100m has been recycled back into the fund.”
The only way to recover from that shock in the North East is not to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, but to do new things