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How the Local Growth Fund helped North East businesses diversify during the coronavirus pandemic

In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic escalated in the UK, there soon became an immediate and urgent need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

To help meet demand, government encouraged companies up and down the country to pivot their businesses to manufacture and supply PPE.

To support businesses in the North East LEP region to join the national COVID-19 effort and produce Personal Protective Equipment, the North East LEP increased its budget from the Local Growth Fund to £1.9m to support the Supply Chain North East programme, which assists businesses to diversify their offering, expand their customer base and unlock untapped opportunities in new markets.

Businesses could apply for a capital grant to pivot their business and begin the manufacture and supply of PPE. In total, 32 businesses in the North East LEP area received funding.

They include County Durham-based IT company, Carbon8 Ltd. Following a significant reduction in sales as supply chains across the world were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the company decided to pivot its business completely to produce medical grade face masks. In May 2020 John Murphy, Director of Carbon8 Ltd, contacted Supply Chain North East to discuss what support was available to develop a new business model to incorporate the production of face masks.

Working with testing agencies as well as Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Carbon8 Ltd secured the required certification and accreditation and is now producing face masks to EN14683 IIR standards.

John Murphy, Director of Carbon8 Ltd, said: “I would definitely recommend Supply Chain North East to other businesses. The team were so helpful with the project and had excellent understanding of what I was trying to accomplish, and I really appreciated the suggestions that were given in relation to the business. At a very uncertain time, we were given other options to our business and now that we are in production, we are looking forward to increasing our production permanently with the help received.”

Another County Durham-based business, Newton Press, used LGF capital funding from Supply Chain North East to diversify its business to produce PPE screen guards for local businesses, the NHS and care homes.

The family-run publishing and printing business saw a sudden loss in demand for its products and services and chose to diversify in response to the coronavirus pandemic. After speaking to Supply Chain North East, Newton Press was able to access the funds to upgrade and recalibrate its equipment to produce a range of screen guards that met the individual needs and preferences of businesses. Its existing print facilities meant the company was able to offer clients the ability to brand screen guards with logos or instructions.

Stuart Howarth, Director of Newton Press, said: “We are very grateful to Supply Chain North East for the support to upgrade our equipment. It has played a major part in recovering sales and moving forward.”

Rocket Medical, an award-winning designer and manufacturer of single use medical devices based in Washington, Sunderland, was awarded LGF capital grant funding through Supply Chain North East to acquire and install new machinery to improve the speed, quality, accuracy of its production. The company produces a number of devices that are essential for the NHS’s COVID-19 response, resulting in a huge rise in demand.

Alan Hewett, Supply Chain North East Business Advisor at RTC North, said: “It was fantastic to be able to support Rocket Medical in this crucial time and assist their acquirement of additional equipment to automate a process and alleviate a ‘bottle neck’, which has helped the business to meet the demand posed by the COVID-19 situation in support of the healthcare sector.”

Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the Innovation Board at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic there was a huge amount of uncertainty, and businesses across our region were preparing for the worst. Many saw an immediate negative impact as supply chains were disrupted globally.

“The decision to invest further in Supply Chain North East and assist businesses to diversify their offering was in direct response to this. The Local Growth Fund supports the delivery of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to grow a more productive, inclusive and sustainable North East economy and create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region. By helping businesses pivot to manufacture and supply PPE we were able to protect, and in some cases, create new jobs.

“The investment from the Local Growth Fund has supported 32 businesses to continue trading and, importantly, create a new revenue stream that is contributing to the North East’s economic recovery.”

The Local Growth Fund has invested more than £270m in major capital projects across all seven North East LEP local authority areas since 2015. Projects include the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland and South Tyneside, The Biosphere life sciences building on Newcastle Helix, the South Shields bus and Metro Transport Interchange in South Tyneside, and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland National Park.

The Local Growth Fund supports the delivery of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to grow a more productive, inclusive and sustainable North East economy and create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region.

All £270.1m from the Local Growth Fund has now been allocated in the North East LEP region, with all in-progress projects due to reach completion by 2024.

Projects supported through the Local Growth Fund help drive innovation, improve support for businesses, support economic inclusion, and either help develop skills infrastructure or enhance strategic transport sites and public transport infrastructure.

To find out more about the Local Growth Fund, visit https://www.northeastlep.co.uk/funding.

To find out more about Supply Chain North East, visit www.supplychainnortheast.co.uk.

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In conversation with Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the North East LEP’s Investment Board, about the LEP’s annual review and the role investment has played in supporting the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19

In a period of uncertainty, it’s easy to get sidetracked. But over the last couple of years, the North East LEP has been able to maintain its longer-term strategic plan, while providing businesses and organisations with the support they need to keep moving.

In August 2020, the Government announced a fund investing £1.3bn into homes, infrastructure and jobs.

The Getting Building Fund looked to deliver up to 45,000 homes, create 85,000 jobs and boost skills and infrastructure nationwide. The North East LEP received £47m from government, which it topped up with a further £8m.

Over the next eight months, it moved quickly to arrange investment into 16 projects, which are anticipated to be well on the way to completion by spring 2022. These include the NUCASTLE facility for accessible learning and recreation, and the new South Tyneside Council Glassworks office development.

The North East LEP has a track record of supporting the right schemes in a timely manner. Andrew Moffat CBE chair of its Investment Board says that “when the government allocates funds to us – we spend them, in the time they require, and spend them effectively. They have confidence that we’ll deliver, and therefore next time, they might give us more.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve looked at where the gaps are in government funding, and tried to help. This includes a supply chain initiative for PPE, and an Innovation Challenge supporting businesses who are solving COVID-related problems. We also launched a crowdfunder scheme, which invested £471,000 into local small and micro businesses with the help of our generous community whose contributions we matched.

“As businesses bounce back, we’ll be looking to give them the support they need. We’ve called on government to back our ambitious £2.8bn Recovery and Renewal Deal, helping us build a greener, more innovative and resilient economy. We’re also providing direct support to businesses, through our investment programmes, and our Growth Hub support.

“COVID-19 has required us to collaborate and listen more than ever. We’ve acted quickly and decisively, and I’m really proud of the work our whole team has done. But we’re still carrying on with the work we’ve been doing for nearly a decade. We’re still committed to our Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs for the region.

“So far, the LEP has secured over a billion pounds in funding which in turn has secured more than another £1.6 billion of private sector investment in the region. We’re continuing to build on our strengths in Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, Health and Life Sciences and Digital. Our Local Growth Fund has distributed £270m over six years to strategic capital projects, while our Enterprise Zone funding has invested £65m, with a further £100m forecast by 2025.

“We’re also always looking at what’s happening globally, identifying which and how sectors are growing and evolving. Because, when opportunities arise, we want to support the region in harnessing them. We seek to make the necessary investments to ensure we’re prepared, whether that’s getting a brownfield site ready for development, or working with an investor or company to seize market opportunities.

“There are many examples where this strategy is already bearing fruit. The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) is a great example. The NewcastleGateshead Quays project is nearly off the blocks, and we’re working closely to support the redevelopment at Port of Blyth – as well as assisting other ports and operators in the region.

“We’re not alone. We’re working with many partners from all over the region to make the right choices to help the North East economy grow and thrive. Together, we have gained a fantastic reputation that includes a track record of delivery, whilst at the same time our strategic approach has allowed us to be on the front foot, and always ready for the next opportunity to gain access to government funding and help deliver real economic benefit to the region.”

Andrew Moffat CBE is the Chair of the North East LEP’s Investment Board.

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Funding available to support voluntary, community and social enterprise projects in the North East

A new fund is being launched by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) to support voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) projects in the wake of COVID-19.

A report published in May this year by Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE) showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the VCSE sector, with 13% of organisations surveyed at the time anticipating they might close. Across the 7,200 VCSE organisations in the North East, that could mean more than 900 closures.

Carol Botten, CEO of VONNE, and North East LEP board member, said: “As well as delivering vital services for communities across the North East, these VCSE organisations are a fundamental part of the North East economy. And we know that collaboration across all sectors, including the VCSE sector, will be key as we work together to deliver the region’s phased recovery plan which we hope will lead us towards a long-term recovery for communities and businesses in the North East.

“We hope to attract creative and collaborative applications to this fund, that engage young people, or that deliver opportunities for communities to engage in a green economic recovery. For example, the fund could support the creation of outdoor recreational spaces like small ‘pocket parks’, a community woodland, or cycle paths; or the creation of space for local enterprise in a village hall.”

Up to eight awards will be made for grants of between £50,000 and £150,000, and organisations can find out more and make an application here.

Grant awards will support either:

  • New or enhanced community facilities that support the health and economic well-being of young people, particularly those aged 16-24 and from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Improve, through green infrastructure projects our urban or rural environments, making connections to education, vocational learning, and employment opportunities through paid or voluntary positions.

This new local scheme complements other, national initiatives to support investment and recovery in the VCSE sector such as : the government’s recently-announced Green Recovery Challenge Fund is aimed at charities and environmental organisations to help them deliver local environmental projects, and details can be found here. And the National Lottery Community Fund is distributing government funding to support organisations to continue delivering services to people and communities affected by COVID-19 – more details are available here.

Find out more about the Capital Grant Programme for VCSE organisations here.

Notes to Editors:

The Local Growth Fund is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.

The £270.4m Local Growth Fund, secured as part of the North East Growth Deal, supports the North East LEP’s delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

 

About the Local Growth Fund:

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.

That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.

Analysis has shown that every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits.

 

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North East LEP’s Local Growth Fund reaches half way milestone

More than half of the projects supported through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund have reached completion, marking a major milestone for the £270m fund.

Providing funding to major capital projects in all seven local authority areas, the Local Growth Fund is helping to create jobs, boost the economy and improve the quality of life for people living and working in North East England.

A promotional film – produced by the North East LEP – has been released to celebrate the Local Growth Fund’s halfway milestone. 

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “More than 50 individual projects have received funding through the Local Growth Fund ranging from major infrastructure projects like The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland and South Tyneside to transformative transport schemes, including the A1058 Coast Road corridor in North Tyneside.

“Funding was awarded to projects that helped achieve the objectives set of out in the region’s Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to support economic growth, improve productivity and increase the number of people employed in high quality jobs.

“All the projects make the North East a better place to live and work, and the improvements will be felt for generations to come. It’s not just about improving our economy, it’s also about improving quality of life for everyone that lives here.”

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP said: “We are investing in the future of communities across the Northern Powerhouse and the whole country through the Local Growth Fund. The projects already delivered by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership with their share of the fund are changing lives by building the infrastructure, skills, jobs and confidence people need to thrive.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy is backing businesses to create high-paid, highly-skilled jobs in every part of the UK and I’m inspired by what has been achieved in the North East so far.

“I look forward to seeing how people across the North East continue to build on local strengths and embrace opportunities for a prosperous future with support from the Government.”

Heidi Mottram, CEO of Northumbrian Water and Vice Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “When the Local Growth Fund from central government was put into place, we already had our Strategic Economic Plan in place so we hit the ground running.

“The things we believed we needed to invest in included infrastructure and improving transport; but the most important thing was to make sure the workforce here in the North East had the skills for the more and better jobs we’re creating.”

The new video profiles many of the projects supported through the Local Growth Fund, including the creation of a new Centre for Enterprise & Innovation, Hope Street Xchange in Sunderland, Europe’s first dedicated centre for emerging technology, PROTO in Gateshead, and the creation of a new Metro/bus interchange in South Shields town centre and a new learning centre for Tyne and Wear Metro workers. It also features interviews with key people leading each project.

To receive funding through the Local Growth Fund, projects had to demonstrate they could drive innovation and improve support for businesses; support economic inclusion and help develop skills infrastructure; or enhance strategic transport sites and public transport infrastructure.

Major infrastructure projects aimed at creating more and better jobs and further strengthening the North East’s key sectors include The Biosphere at Newcastle Helix, CPI’s National Formulation Centre at NETPark in County Durham, and Vaux in Sunderland’s Central Business District.

Dr. Graeme Cruickshank, Director of Formulation at CPI, said: “The investment in creating these world-class facilities is vital in enabling the North East to retain its core strength in chemistry and formulating sciences, ensuring this expertise is available to small and large companies and academic groups across the UK.

“This support has facilitated us to create new jobs at CPI’s National Formulation Centre and National Healthcare Photonics Centre, both at NETPark, as well as enabling us to directly support the innovation efforts of partners in this region and beyond.”

John Seager, Chief Executive of Siglion, the development partnership leading the Vaux regeneration project, said: “Regeneration projects in difficult markets are all about kick starting investment activity. The LGF funding for Phase 1 at VAUX has provided the essential seeds from which we can grow the ideal environment to attract private sector investment, both financial and in jobs – it’s absolutely transformational to the local economy”

Major road improvement schemes are continuing to take place across the region thanks to investment from the Local Growth Fund. Significant transport projects including the A1056 Weetslade Corridor, A19 and the Arches junction in South Shields will improve traffic flow, provide greater accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists, and support more people to use public transport.

The Local Growth Fund has also helped support sustainable transport projects across the North East in a bid to reduce congestion and protect the environment. Projects have included cycle schemes in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, South Tyneside and North Tyneside, as well as the refurbishment of Central Station Metro in Newcastle.

John Fenwick, Director of Finance and Resources at Nexus, said: “We have invested in new facilities for public transport users with support from the Local Growth Fund. This has included the development of a new transport interchange in South Shields and the modernisation of Central station on the Tyne and Wear Metro, in Newcastle.

“The LGF support has also enabled Nexus to invest in its workforce, with the creation of a new learning centre to meet all of our training needs. Construction of this training facility in South Shields town centre is well underway.”

Rural communities across the North East have benefitted from the Local Growth Fund with projects including East Durham College’s Houghall Campus and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland National Park receiving investment to support the North East’s rural economy and thriving tourism sector.

Tony Gates, Chief Executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “The North East has a unique identity, borne from a strong sense of pride and place, which is driven by the people that live, work and visit here.

“Our rural areas, with their rich natural resources, diverse economies, vibrant communities and close urban links, bring great value to the region. The visitor economy is one of our fastest growing sectors and one with the potential to significantly boost our economy for generations to come and create new jobs.

“Through its support for The Sill, the Local Growth Fund has brought new employment opportunities and helped to secure significant public and private investment in one of the most rural parts of the region. Attracting more than 150,000 visitors per year, The Sill has supported the growth of a number of local businesses and is well on its way to bringing a further £2.5m per year to this rural part of Northumberland.”

Projects that support local communities and improve skills have also received funding from the Local Growth Fund. The new 2,500-seater Newcastle Eagles Community Arena in Elswick provides a new community venue for sports participation, vocational training, and health & wellbeing.

Paul Blake, Managing Director of Newcastle Eagles said: “The Local Growth Fund was a pivotal building block in our development, which even in our early stages has seen significant job growth, jobs safeguarded for the long term and a number of new apprenticeships launched across several sectors.

“Our partnership with Newcastle College extends the educational reach in the building even further. A month into opening we are now building local networks in the West End to cement our sporting, health and wellbeing offer too.”

For information on all the projects supported by the Local Growth Fund, visit www.nelep.co.uk/funding

The Local Growth Fund film can be viewed on the North East LEP website, https://www.nelep.co.uk/funding/local-growth-funding.

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Local Growth Fund project in South Tyneside nears completion

A Local Growth Fund project to create three new state-of-the-art industrial units on Monkton Business Park, South Tyneside, is nearing completion.

The £5m scheme by Washington-based Hellens Group has introduced 58,000 square feet (5,387 square metres) of new industrial space to the Hebburn-based Business Park, which is expected to create over 100 jobs.

The agents for the units, GVA (www.gva.co.uk) and HTA Real Estate Ltd (www.htare.co.uk), are currently seeking prospective tenants from the manufacturing sector.

Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive at Hellens Group, said: “We were delighted to receive £1.27m from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP’s) Local Growth Fund to support the build of these new industrial units, which are a real coup for the region.

“There are very few facilities of this size or spec in the North East so we’re expecting a lot of interest from companies located here already and those looking for a base in the region.”

In addition to funding from the Local Growth Fund, Hellens Group also received loan funding of £1.7m from the North East Investment Fund (NEIF), an evergreen loan fund also administered by the North East LEP.

Andrew Hodgson, chief executive of the North East LEP said: “This project is a fantastic example of the Local Growth Fund in action.

“The Fund was established to support industrial and commercial infrastructure projects across the North East LEP area. It’s great to see the development near completion as it will bring more jobs to the region and support our growing economy.”

The Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Minister Jake Berry said: “This government is committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse and building a country that works for everyone. Through this investment of £1.27m from the Local Growth Fund towards the Monkton Business Park, we are giving businesses in the North East the tools and resources they need to expand and flourish.

Monkton Business Park has rapidly developed into a key business location in South Tyneside. The addition of the new units makes it one of the key Business Parks in the North East.

With close links to the A19 and A1, it offers businesses easy access to both Sunderland and Newcastle, and is well placed to serve manufacturers with supply chains north and south of the River Tyne. Importantly, it is less than 15 minutes away from the planned International Advanced Manufacturing Pak (IAMP) and Nissan’s Sunderland car plant.

The site is already home to a number of companies including Siemens, Hitachi Construction Machinery Ltd, Variable Message Signs (VMS) Ltd, Ford Component Manufacturing, Clugston Construction, Kier North and Keepmoat, along with many others.

Leader of South Tyneside Council, Councillor Iain Malcolm, said: “Seeing these much needed industrial units nearing completion is excellent news for South Tyneside. This project supports the Council’s strategic vision for economic growth across the Borough, providing first class business facilities, creating more job opportunities and making South Tyneside a place for the private sector to invest.

“It’s also fantastic that funding from the LEP’s North East Investment Fund and the Local Growth Fund has enabled the construction of these manufacturing units, which will offer new tenants opportunities to grow by tapping into the region’s supply chain.”

Simon Hill, Director at HTA Real Estate Ltd, said: “These units are specifically aimed at the manufacturing sector and we have already seen strong interest, which will increase on Practical Completion in August and when the Nissan supply chain contracts are awarded. The units are only 4.4 miles from Nissan and will therefore offer ideal accommodation for companies looking to expand or enter the North East market.”

The £270.4m Local Growth Fund, secured as part of the North East Growth Deal, supports the North East LEP’s delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024. The North East Investment Fund was established as an evergreen loan funding to support capital projects that will lead to job creation.

For more information about the Local Growth Fund and North East Investment Fund, visit www.nelep.co.uk/funding

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Development at Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate receives boost from Local Growth Fund

 

We have awarded funding to support the development of a new commercial business unit on the Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate through the Local Growth Fund.

UK Land Estates, which is leading the project to create 52,939 square feet (4,920 square metres) of new business space, has received £1,359,322 from the North East LEP’s Local Growth Fund that helps support economic asset and infrastructure projects across the North East LEP area.

The Intersect 19 project marks the first speculative development on the Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate since the 2008 recession.

Tim Witty, Development Director at UK Land Estates, said:

The development is fantastic news for Tyneside and the wider region. This high specification unit will offer 52,939 square feet of modern high bay manufacturing space with 9.8m eaves height, good power availability and the capability to provide 20t overhead craneage. UK Land Estates are keen to hear from businesses looking to grow their business in 2017.

Work will commence on site on 6 February with a target completion date of 1 September 2017.

The £220.4m Local Growth Fund, secured as part of the North East Growth Deal, supports the North East LEP’s delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

David Land, Board Member of the North East LEP, said:

As one of the key employment sites identified in our Strategic Economic Plan, we’re delighted to be able to support this ambitious project that will encourage more manufacturing growth and job creation in North Tyneside.

Businesses in our region, particularly growing SMEs, are looking for new, state of-the-art facilities. By investing and developing in infrastructure we can help create more and better jobs for the North East.

Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate is strategically located in North Tyneside meaning it is well placed to serve manufacturers with supply chains north and south of the River Tyne. The major investments made in improvements to the local road network, including the dualled Tyne Tunnel and ongoing works to the A19/A1058 Coast Road junction, will ensure the estate continues to benefit from good accessibility to the wider North East region and beyond.

Over the past five years UK Land Estates has invested in excess of £6 million on a programme of refurbishments that have revitalised the estate.

UK Land Estates were advised by Tynemouth based Almere Consulting.  Tom Bailey, Managing Director of Almere Consulting, said:

We are tremendously appreciative of the support for the project that we’ve had from both North Tyneside Council and the North East LEP.

The Intersect 19 development at Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate is one of 11 new projects across the North East to receive investment from the Local Growth Fund in 2016/17.