HARTLEPOOL is to host a top-level conference aimed at the bosses of small businesses.
The town has been chosen for the regional dinner and annual meeting of the Federation of Small Businesses.
The event will be held at the Hartlepool College of Further Education in Stockton Street on Thursday, November 21.
And organisers say it is a chance for the town to show how vibrant it is after recent criticism levelled at Hartlepool.
National politics and business magazine The Economist published a report branding the town as “decaying”, “despite dollops of public money and years of heroic effort”.
Hartlepool FSB branch chair Pam Hargreaves said: “Hartlepool FSB are delighted to be hosting this year’s annual regional dinner and look forward to welcoming businesses from around the region to our town, particularly in the light of the recent debate stimulated in The Economist.
“Despite the negative comments made about the town I believe that there are lots of positive signs of development and improvement.”
The guest speaker will be the Federation’s national chairman John Allan.
The keynote speaker will be Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, the Shadow Minister for Competitiveness & Enterprise in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Pam praised Hartlepool and said the town looks unrecognisable today from when she left it to go to university.
She added: “It has an incredible amount of talent and a number of businesses providing world-class, unique and world-leading technology and services.
“We are really hoping for a good show of Hartlepool businesses at the regional dinner to illustrate to the rest of the region just how vibrant our business community actually is.
“After all, the best way to counteract the views of misguided visitors to our town is to show them just how robust and determined we are and through our success.”
The evening’s proceedings start with the FSB annual meeting from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. It is only open to FSB members.
It will be followed by a drinks reception from 7.30pm and the annual dinner from 8pm to 11pm.
Tickets for the dinner cost £10 for FSB members and £25 for non-members and guests.
They are available from the website at https://northeastregionalagm.eventbrite.com/