MORE than 400 North East jobs will be created thanks to The Journal's £3m regional growth fund bid.
The Government cash comes as part of £93m worth of North East investment set to see some 8,500 jobs across the region.
When the second round of the growth fund opened to bidders in the spring, The Journal set up the Let’s Grow campaign to make sure smaller and medium-sized firms had the chance to benefit.
Strict Government rules meant firms had to be asking for at least £1m to stand a chance of getting growth fund cash, but by coming together in a Journal consortium, firms were allowed to access the much-needed investment.
The news means expansion plans can be kicked off at manufacturing sites from Teesside to Northumberland. With extra cash from firms themselves, the total amount to be spent in the region as part of Let’s Grow will reach £14m creating 433 jobs.
The bid was put together with help from accountants UNW and the Business and Enterprise Group which played a vital role helping firms come forward. Last night UNW’s corporate finance partner Neville Bearpark said: “We are delighted with this result which is a real boost to the region’s business community. The growth fund has been criticised for only helping larger organisations, so supporting the 11 and medium-sized firms in the bid reinforces the Government’s support for this vital sector.” Journal editor Brian Aitken has also welcomed the news.
He said: “It is really pleasing to see that these important bids have been successful. A lot of hard work has gone into this from all involved, especially Neville and his team at UNW, and we are proud to be helping create jobs in the North East.”
Yesterday’s announcement includes expansion cash for Jarrow Brewery, which took part in the Let’s Grow campaign.
Brewery owner Jess McConnell says he will now be able to expand the business, creating 22 new jobs and bringing his ales to a national market.
He said: “This is brilliant news for us. For the last two years, we have been desperate to increase our brewing capacity.
“We have had to stop delivering across the UK and cater only for the North East. We have now identified suitable premises in South Tyneside and are in advanced planning discussions with the council to open the new brewery.”
In Durham, Hydram Engineering will use growth fund and extra investment to spend £2m turning the firm into one of the largest sheet metal manufacturers in the UK. The move will create at least 34 new jobs, as well as safeguarding the existing 130-strong workforce.
Hydram’s managing director, David Greatorex, said: “The successful outcome of this bid is welcome news. The funding will give the directors the confidence to accelerate the company’s plan to become a world-class business over the next two years.”
Alastair MacColl, chief executive of the Business and Enterprise Group, which ran the Let’s Grow Campaign in conjunction with The Journal said: “This significant investment will continue to help our small and medium-sized firms turn their ambitions into results.”