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Business & Economy

Business Festival showcases Sunderland: city of opportunities for local people

Sunderland is launching its first ever business festival, a celebration of the dynamic companies based in the city and the opportunities they create for local people.

City of Sunderland Business Festival will take place between October 4 and 8 and will shine a spotlight on the innovative businesses based in the city, as well as the transforming skyline that is attracting many more to Sunderland.  It will also connect local people to job opportunities, inspire businesspeople with thought-provoking speeches and sessions from world-class speakers and showcase the industries that are driving the economic regeneration of the city.

Delivered by Sunderland Business Partnership – a collective of more than 50 businesses from or with an interest in Sunderland – and sponsored by Sunderland City Council, the Festival will combine in-person events with virtual sessions, roundtables and talk-ins to bring to life the vibrant business scene in the area.  While there will be an emphasis on Sunderland’s businesses, many of the discussions will appeal to businesspeople from outside of the city.

A series of themed panel discussions will explore how Sunderland’s business landscape is growing and changing, and events aimed at residents – including Bridges Means Business, a week-long event in the Bridges shopping centre – will support residents to land their dream job or take the leap into self-employment.

Chair of Sunderland Business Partnership, Ellen Thinnesen, who is also chief executive of Education Partnership North East which includes Sunderland College, said: “This will be a unique, engaging and vibrant festival, that will inspire both our businesses and our residents.

“Sunderland is an ambitious city and through this Festival, we will showcase the amazing businesses that call it home, as well as ensuring that our residents are connected to the opportunities they create to provide rewarding careers for them and their family.”

Leading experts and opinion formers regionally, nationally and globally, will be part of the line-up for business-focused events, while residents attending the Recruitment Fair at the Stadium of Light will be supported with information on training options, job opportunities and guidance, as well as a lively line-up of sessions at the Bridges shopping centre, including speed careers “dating”, an entrepreneurs day and a spotlight on homegrown businesses which started life as a hobby and have become hugely successful.

“It was very important for the Bridges to be part of the festival and to stage our own programme of events,” said Karen Eve, centre manager at the Bridges.

“Giving people a chance to get on the business ladder or to build their existing business is something I’m very passionate about and I hope we will help them get the tools they need.”

Businesses from across the region are being encouraged to sign up to take part in City of Sunderland Business Festival, either attending events and virtual seminars, or showcasing their vacancies at the Recruitment Fair.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, headline sponsor of the event which will culminate in the Foundation of Light’s 20th anniversary dinner on Friday, October 8, said: “Sunderland is transforming, and with that we’re seeing more and better job opportunities for local people and an increasingly dynamic economy where businesses support and encourage each other.

“We’re really delighted to be supporting an event that will bring the city’s incredible business landscape into sharp focus and ensure that companies and residents are inspired to achieve more and play an active role in Sunderland’s success.”

For further information about Sunderland Business Festival visit

For information about the programme of events at the Bridges, contact [email protected].