Business secretary Vince Cable has praised regional newspapers for helping to distribuite government funding to fledgling businesses.
Four regional dailies – the Western Morning News, the Liverpool Echo, the Birmingham Mail and The Journal, Newcastle – have so far become involved in the government’s regional Growth Fund initiative to help business start-ups on their patches.
Speaking to regional political editors at a Newspaper Conference lunch this week, Dr Cable singled out the Western Morning News scheme saying he had been “overwhelmed” by the enthusiasm of small businesses in Plymouth for the project.
“One of the projects in the Regional Growth Fund that we are most proud of and is really making waves is the Plymouth project for SMEs which I think the Western Morning News is heavily involved in alongside Plymouth University,” he said.
“When I went down to Plymouth three weeks back I was absolutely overwhelmed by the incredible enthusiasm from the local business community, dozens of small companies have been indentified to be given practical help in a way that a big organisation like central Government would never have never have been able to access.
“It was the networks of the local media which made all that possible,” he added.
Dr Cable also praised The Journal’s political editor, Will Green, for his persistence and “daily calls” at the time of the Northern Rock crisis in 2007 when he was the Lib Dems’ shadow chancellor.
“His newspaper and the Tyneside comment played an incredibly important role in framing the debate which bubbled up from the bottom,” he said.
Chaired by Northcliffe Media’s Nick Lester, the lunch was an opportunity for regional newspaper lobby journalists to exclusively quiz Dr Cable on a variety of issues.
Dr Cable described his contact with regional newspaper journalists on visits to the regions as “immensely valuable” and said that he wanted “to acknowledge the importance of regional journalists.”