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New Growth Hub will be crucial for economic growth

It’s our role at the North East LEP to facilitate economic growth – targeting investment to create an environment where companies can feel confident and thrive.

A busy, fertile, connected marketplace where ideas and information are freely available and exchanged between small and medium-sized firms underpins an exciting new online platform we are developing at the North East LEP.

The North East Growth Hub is a pillar of our Strategic Economic Plan. It is an innovative digital platform which we believe will open up a wealth of new opportunities and information for the SMEs which drive so much of our economic growth.

The description that I like best is that the Growth Hub will be the business support nucleus for the North East.

It will be the single point of access to go to for companies, a knowledge centre in which to enquire, advise, share, support, help and be helped by other businesses.

We hope to build an online ecosystem which will co-ordinate and simplify business support, joining up national, local, public and private sector support.

A whole host of functions are currently being trialled with businesses, such as talking with each other to solve common issues through community forums and providing a comprehensive list of support and sources of finance to businesses and their advisors.

It’s imperative that the Growth Hub works for business. We are inviting more companies and member organisations to register to try out the platform. You can sign up at http://www.northeastgrowthhub.co.uk/register-your-interest/ .

Once you’ve signed up you’ll be sent an email with an online survey where you can give us feedback on the Growth Hub, which we will then use in the development of the site.

We’ve got a talented team on board to help turn our vision into reality. Escher Group are working with Cobweb Information and The Roundhouse to deliver the Growth Hub.

Colin Bell is the Growth Hub’s newly appointed project manager. He can be contacted at [email protected] and is keen to hear from companies with ideas about the Growth Hub’s development.

We are also spreading the word through our social media channels and are encouraging as many businesses as possible to help us by using the hashtag #negrowthhub.

It’s a bold ambition but is one we are confident we can deliver. The trial is progressing well. We’re fine tuning the Growth Hub’s functionality based on user feedback and from workshops we are hosting and hope to launch the full platform to business in the Autumn.

I hope that the Growth Hub will become the home page for regional businesspeople – the first site they turn to everyday when switching on their mobiles or laptop.

A more informed and better connected North East can only be good for our economic prospects as we look to create more and better jobs for all.