VIDEO: Hartlepool has a ‘vibrant business community’, hears Tees Valley Business Summit

FOUR hundred delegates have attended a business event which had a key message – that the Tees Valley is full of entrepreneurial spirit.

The Hartlepool Mail-backed Tees Valley Business Summit, in Middlesbrough, lasted for more than seven hours yesterday with numerous town firms taking many of the 70 exhibition stands.

The event also included a keynote speech by Andrew van der Lem, from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, who talked about the Government’s planned new Business Bank.

He said its aim was to provide larger level funding to smaller companies which would otherwise struggle for financial support. He said he was at the summit to “talk to businesses in a straightforward way and find out what they need”.

He praised the newly established Tees Valley Catalyst Fund, revealed last month in the Mail, as a scheme which was so good it could almost be a pilot example of the Business Bank.

The Catalyst Fund aims to provide firms from areas such as Hartlepool with funds to set up performance bonds which would help them unlock bigger contracts.

Mr van der Lem said one of the reasons why the UK lagged behind other European countries in business investment was “because of access to finance”.

The summit was organised by regeneration agency Tees Valley Unlimited whose managing director Stephen Catchpole said: “We have a vibrant business community in Hartlepool and we want them to take advantage of this so they can continue to grow and prosper.”

The summit is the second to be held, and attracted 100 more business representatives than last year’s inaugural event in Stockton.

Mr Catchpole added: “It has gone really well.”

BBC business reporter Steph McGovern acted as the host for the keynote sessions and said key issues facing the UK included how companies got access to finance, the fragile confidence in the economy, and a shortage of skills for certain industrues.

Watch out for further reports on the summit in the Hartlepool Mail’s business pages next week.