HARTLEPOOL’S top entrepreneurs have been urged to beat the critics and show Britain the way forward.
Two keynote speeches were given at the Hartlepool Business Awards - and both carried the message that there’s no need for the town to suffer the image of a struggling community.
Awards co-ordinator and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright both praised the strength of the business world.
Mr Steel said: “We have got the people who can make the vision for this town a reality.”
He told them: “You are the engine room for business but it will only move with you.
“We are moving away from difficult times and the way we do that is by turning the vision into reality, and that means you the innovators, the risk takers and you the people who are prepared to invest.”
Mr Wright hit out at the national newspaper critics who questioned whether the North-East can avoid becoming “Britain’s Detroit” – the run down American city which was once a successful car manufacturing heartland.
The criticism was levelled at the region in a Guardian article but Mr Wright told the 250 awards guests: “We are not Detroit. We have got a fantastic future. We have got huge successes to come in the years ahead and that is because of you.
“We have got challenges and issues and that is not in doubt but business is part of the solution and not the problem.
“Businesses are providing the jobs and the wealth for this town and what these awards do is showcase the tremendous talent we have in Hartlepool.
“Hartlepool can hold its own with anywhere in this country. Our businesses can compete with anyone else in the country or Europe.”
He told the audience: “You are the town’s stars.”
But Mr Wright did issue a note of caution. He told the business bosses in the audience that the town needed even more people of their calibre, and more entrepreneurs willing to get companies off the ground.
“The start-up rates in the North East are half of what they are in London. If we are to have a truly great society, if we are to have well-paid jobs, we need more entrepreneurs to think about setting up in business.”
Eleven awards were handed out at the awards night which was held at the Borough Hall.
The Hartlepool Mail was there to interview all of the winners and to capture photographs of the night.
Watch out for an eight-page supplement filled with reaction and more details from every award winner in next Tuesday’s Hartlepool Mail.