COUNCIL chiefs will this week outline plans to invest £400m to make Newcastle one of the country’s most business-friendly cities despite its stringent budget.
At a meeting tomorrow with businesses, universities and economic partners from across the city, the council will set out a range of initiatives to attract investment and create jobs.
Plans include investing £16m to ensure that businesses and residents can benefit from faster broadband through increased fibre to bring about an effective wireless network.
The council will also ensure there is ample incubation space for small businesses, to enable them to prosper in the city and a new skills and apprenticeship hub next year, providing greater opportunities for businesses to influence learning outcomes.
Council leader Coun Nick Forbes said: “Our number-one priority is an ambition to make Newcastle a working city; a place where prosperity and growth are shared for the benefit of all. Good-quality jobs, where people feel secure in their employment and able to put down roots in their local community, are the best way of ensuring people have dignity, self-respect and hope for the future.
“Having people in work means fewer community tensions, fewer health and social problems, less crime and is the best way of increasing the resilience of individuals and communities.”
Businesses and partner organisations of the council, such as Science City, NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) and the city’s universities, will hear Coun Forbes give a speech on economic stimulus at the Civic Centre tomorrow.
Delegates will learn that despite the council’s challenging budget – which it emerged at the weekend is likely to see the closure of many libraries across the city – it is determined to attract and grow new businesses, demonstrating that Newcastle is a prime city to invest in.
Attendees can also find out more about the four Accelerated Development Zone sites in Newcastle and Gateshead; Science Central, Stephenson Quarter and the Central Station, East Pilgrim Street and Gateshead Quays and Baltic Business Quarter.
All of the growth in business rate income from these sites will be retained locally, rather than held by the Treasury.
This will allow the council to support £90m of additional investment, creating 600 jobs in the construction and development phase, and generating 13,000 permanent jobs by 2030.
Three sites have also been designated by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership as an Enterprise Zone, providing opportunities in the marine and offshore energy sector.
Coun Forbes added: “Creating jobs, and ensuring local people have the skills to do them, is part of our vision for a fairer city, where people rely less on public services.
“Newcastle is a confident city with big ambitions for the future. The council has an important role to play in creating the right conditions for investment, employment and growth.
“Through our City Deal with government, we have put in place new powers and investment opportunities to help us move forward to make Newcastle a working city. We want to send a message loud and clear to businesses; even in tough times, Newcastle is open for business.”