NEW businesses will be given the chance to grow on Wearside and help bring thousands of jobs to the area, thanks to a £289million funding agreement unveiled today.
The Government announced it is to award the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) £289million as part of the historic Growth Deal.
A total of £111.7million has been confirmed in the first year, and as part of the Government’s on-going commitment to the North East LEP, it has provided an indicative award of a further £177.6million of funding from 2016/17 onwards.
The projects, which start in 2015/16, will help to create up to 4,000 jobs, and generate about £90million in public and private investment.
Among the key features of the deal is an innovation programme – a package of projects to support technological advances in key industries, such as the Sunderland Enterprise and Innovation Hub, which will provide the first ‘Fab Lab’ in the North East. The lab provides spaces for new businesses and workshop, office and laboratory space for growing manufacturing, creative and science-based businesses.
Transport links are also expected to be improved as part of the deal, with cash earmarked for improvements to junctions on the A1 and A19 roads from 2016 onwards.
Speaking about the announcement, Prime Minister David Cameron said today: “This historic deal means real change for the North East, with plans to attract new business to the area, drive innovation and invest in skills in key sectors such as advanced manufacturing and low carbon energy technologies.
“It will help ensure young people in the region have the skills they need to get on and help ensure the North East has the workforce it needs to prosper.”
The news follows on from last month’s City Deal announcement, which will see a 100-hectare International Advanced Manufacturing Park built close to Nissan’s Washington car plant.
As well as the Sunderland Enterprise and Innovation Hub, East Durham College will be handed a skills improvement package to boost skill levels among key sectors such as manufacturing at its Houghall campus in Durham.
Other transport improvements include £6.3million towards a western relief road for Durham City, with cycling schemes, work on Durham railway station and traffic management schemes cross Wearside and County Durham of a £7.5million award.
A new train station planned at Horden will also be supported by the work.
Paul Woolston, chairman of the North East LEP, said: “Our economic plan – ‘more and better jobs’ – sets an ambitious vision for the North East, to transform the economy and create more and better jobs.
“Our £289.3million Growth Deal endorses our approach providing investment for innovation, skills, business support, transport, developing our economic assets and supporting inclusive growth.
“It also sets out a clear commitment to work closely with us to bring forward proposals around improving educational attainment and a new investment fund.
“The deal will act as catalyst to lever in substantial private and public investment, creating thousands of jobs and providing sustainable and long-term growth.
“It marks the beginning of an exciting journey for the North East and I’m looking forward to working with our partners and Government to make it happen.”
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “The North East Growth Deal will create thousands of jobs, provide incredible new training opportunities for young people, and improve transport links across the region for people and their families; building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
“We’re placing the power and money in the hands of people in the North East who know how to spend it best, making a real difference to local communities.”
Councillor Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The funding announcements are fantastic news for the residents and businesses of Country Durham which will make a hugely positive difference to job prospects and the overall economy.”