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Business & Economy

£235,000 awarded to help COVID-hit companies recover

More than £235,000 in funding has been awarded to help North East businesses across a range of sectors recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will result in the creation of 12 different business support projects for North East businesses operating in some of the hardest-hit areas, including the cultural sector, food and drink, digital, and manufacturing.

The Local Growth Fund comes from the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group, part of North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a public, private, and education sector partnership covering Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.

The group hopes the money will create jobs, boost the economy, and improve quality of life for people living and working in North East England.

Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East LEP, explained: “The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group was created very quickly after the effect of the pandemic on our region became apparent, and it is coordinating a response which prioritises job creation and investment in our people, infrastructure and innovation.

“As part of this response, the North East LEP is providing funding that will enable business support organisations to put in place new ways of helping businesses in a variety of sectors to rebuild and move forward.”

Food and Drink North East (FADNE) has been awarded funding to support struggling food and drink businesses in the region.

Ian Pilkington, chair of FADNE, said: “Targeted, sector-specific and specialist business support is a fundamental part of the FADNE strategy and key to unleashing the potential of our vibrant food and drink sector and supporting its growth in a meaningful and measurable way.

“We are delighted to be working with partners such as the North East LEP and NBSL and look forward to launching our Speaking from Experience programme early in the New Year.”

North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA), which also received funding, plans to use it to develop the region’s electric vehicle cluster, EV North.

Paul Butler, CEO of NEAA, said: “The North East is leading the UK’s electrification agenda. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue to develop our capabilities in this area and ensure our businesses are best placed to capitalise on this global electrification mega trend.

“We are delighted to receive this support to enable us to move our EV North activities forward.”

Other programmes that have been awarded funding through this latest round of grants include a programme to help digital businesses promote vacancies to people in the region who have been made redundant during the pandemic; an innovation accelerator for the pharmaceutical sector in the region; and a programme to support the economic recovery of the creative and cultural sector in Durham.

“This is a critical time for many businesses in our region which have been hit hard by the economic shock of COVID-19,” said Colin Bell.

“The North East has an efficient, coordinated response which I am confident will put us on the path to a stronger post-pandemic economy, and this funding will help to make sure that no one is left behind as we move towards recovery.”