PLANS to create thousands of jobs across the North East have been unveiled after the region won millions of pounds in Government funding.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been allocated £30million from the Regional Growth Fund to develop a new fund which aims to create at least 2,300 new jobs over 10 years by targeting projects with the greatest economic return for any investment.
The LEP will boost the pot with funding from the private sector and other cash under its control, including the existing £25million Growing Places Fund.
The North East infrastructure fund (NEIF) will be open to private and public sector applicants and decisions on funding will be made according to both the economic return and the benefit to local communities.
LEP chairman Paul Woolston said: “Timely and targeted infrastructure development is at the heart of a thriving, outward looking regional economy. The RGF support for our infrastructure fund recognises that private and public investment is critical to realise opportunities in the area.
“The fund will create more than 2,333 new jobs in the North East over its lifetime and bring £30million of immediate investment into the region.”
Deputy chairman Coun Simon Henig added: “The infrastructure fund will shape future investment in the region’s key sectors, helping us grow our international presence in offshore, automotive, digital, professional and business areas.
“Public and private sectors will benefit from the wide-ranging remit of this fund. It will help to drive the economy not only of this area, but of the UK.”
All the local councils in the LEP area – from Northumberland to County Durham – worked together on the RGF bid.
Information on how to apply and the criteria against which bids will be assessed will be issued in time for the fund to begin spending in the next financial year. In the meantime, the LEP’s existing Growing Places Fund remains open until Friday, November 9.
The LEP was not the only organisation to benefit in yesterday’s announcement of Regional Growth Fund investment, with several companies across the regional also set to receive a cash injection.
Among those in line to benefit are Caterpillar UK Ltd, NSK Bearings Europe Ltd and Actem (UK) Ltd in Peterlee and TRW Systems Ltd in Houghton.
Commenting on the announcement of successful North East bidders in the latest round, North East Chamber of Commerce director of policy Ross Smith welcomed the news, but urged ministers to explain how they saw the future of the Regional growth fund developing.
“It is fantastic to see a continuation of North East business’ success at securing Regional Growth funding.
“The number of projects being approved represents a clear demonstration that we have the quality businesses required to draw down this kind of high value investment.”
“It is particularly pleasing to see this important funding spread across a range of well-established, innovative companies, which gives confidence that a high proportion of this investment will come to fruition.
“What we now require is clarity over the future direction of RGF and other measures to support businesses investment in the North East.”