Two regional daily papers have been awarded £30m of government funding for a campaign which aims to boost businesses in the North East.
Newcastle’s The Journal and Teesside’s Evening Gazette have been awarded the huge cashpot from the Regional Growth Fund to run a three-year programme of business support to help companies expand, called Let’s Grow.
The scheme is set to create or safeguard thousands of jobs in the region and will focus primarily on small and medium sized firms, who will be able to apply for grants once it is launched in the New Year.
Also awarded money from the Regional Growth Fund is the Wolverhampton-based Express and Star, which has been given £1.4m to help around 50 firms in the Midlands.
The Journal ran a similar campaign last year, which saw £3m secured from the same fund to give to 11 North East firms.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m delighted that The Journal has been successful in securing investment from this £1bn round of the Regional Growth Fund.
“The Journal is essential reading in Newcastle, so the paper is well placed to find the very best of the North East’s small business owners looking to grow their firms.”
The two regional dailies have been joined in the campaign by accountancy firm UNW, the Business and Enterprise Group, Northumbria University and Teesside University.
Journal editor Brian Aitken said: “This has been a real team effort and we are delighted it has been successful. We look forward to inviting growing companies from across the North East to apply to the fund.”
The funds will be awarded on a quarterly basis and bids will be subject to strict criteria and judged by an independent panel of senior business and civic leaders.
Ross Smith, policy director at the North East Chamber of Commerce, added: “It’s fantastic news. The Journal has led the way yet again in pulling together a really innovative bid, which will make sure the Regional Growth Fund can be applied around a series of smaller business with exciting potential for growth.”
The Express and Star’s Green Shoots Fund will run for 18 months from January, with four separate competitions for businesses to apply to.
Editor Adrian Faber said: “We are aiming to help small and medium sized companies to get a financial boost along with advice and support to help create badly-needed jobs.
“We want to make it as quick and simple as possible for people to apply for these grants.”
The paper is working in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton, the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and four local councils for its campaign.