Business bosses in South Tyneside have been offered cash to create more jobs.
The Government’s small business supremo, Andrew Griffiths, was in the borough yesterday to make a direct appeal to firms to grab their share of a new £120m growth investment pot.
He was in Jarrow to launch the North East Fund, which aims to support around 600 small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) over the next five years.
Dozens of SMEs in South Tyneside - which has seen an increase in self-employment and small businesses since the onset of the recession - could benefit.
Mr Griffiths, Minister for Small Business, said the new funding reflected the Government’s ambition to deliver growth and employment.
Around £108m, being given as loans, is being provided by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.
The remainder, which also targets innovation, is from Government and other sources.
Mr Griffiths said: “I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet some of the businesses that will be able to grow and succeed as a result of this £120m fund.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and, in the North East, support 355,000 jobs and generate £27bm.
“The North East is undergoing a real renaissance. There is a great deal of confidence in the region.”
Mr Griffiths was joined at the launch by Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, who had invited him to the borough, and Coun Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council.
Coun Malcolm said: “I am very pleased to welcome the Minister and for him to join in discussing and raising the profile of our local economy.
“We have high economic aspirations for the borough, so ensuring our SMEs have access to the right funds is a core element in our vision to create more high-quality jobs in South Tyneside.”
He added: “The North East Fund is an incredible opportunity for our businesses considering funding to accelerate growth, develop new ideas or engage new technologies.”
Mr Griffiths later visited Hebburn firm Beyond Digital Solutions, which specialises in providing digital signage communication systems for companies, to open its new office.
And he then toured the site of the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park, near Nissan, a partnership between South Tyneside and Sunderland councils which could create 7,000 jobs.