THE Journal’s campaign to help businesses in the North East to grow and create jobs has won heavyweight support.
Our Let’s Grow campaign urging local firms to come together to bid for money from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund has been praised by the deputy chairman of the panel advising ministers on applications for funding.
The fund has a minimum £1m bidding threshold, effectively ruling out small and medium-sized companies submitting applications for support. But by pulling together bids, the Let’s Grow campaign aims to help dozens of businesses in the North East to create jobs.
Sir Ian Wrigglesworth said: “I congratulate The Journal on starting it because I think it is just the sort of regional initiative we need.
“And we need to increasingly think about what we are doing about solving the issues and getting the growth the region needs.
“I think The Journal throwing its weight behind that is tremendously important.”
He added: “I think the region needs to stop looking towards the Government and towards London to solve its problems.
“So I very much welcome the regional initiative.”
The deadline for applications for Let’s Grow closed last night, by which time almost 60 businesses had completed an application form. An independent panel of judges will now work through the applications before announcing which ones will form part of the bid to the Regional Growth Fund.
Sir Ian said he expected a “substantial” number of bids for funding from the second round of applications for money from the regional growth fund. Nearly £1bn is up for grabs from the fund in total, with a deadline of noon today for initial expressions of interest.
“It’s great news because it means we will be getting some really good bids in,” he said.
“And people really are getting the message that this is a tremendous opportunity for them to get gap funding and get a leg up to get investment going, and to create private sector jobs.” He said it would be surprising if there were not 1,000 or more bids based on responses from ongoing roadshows.
“People need to really concentrate on the quality of the bids they are putting in and how closely they match the criteria for the fund,” he added.
Sir Ian’s praise comes as 16 MPs from London to the Midlands to the North East and Manchester have backed the campaign as well.
Tony Lloyd, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and South Shields MP David Miliband are among heavyweight figures to welcome our campaign by signing a House of Commons motion tabled by Gateshead’s Ian Mearns.
Let’s Grow has been run by The Journal with support from the Business and Enterprise Group and advisers from Newcastle-based accountants UNW.
It is backed by the North East Chamber of Commerce, the CBI North East, the Federation of Small Businesses and the manufacturing employers group, EEF.