THE vital role of smaller businesses was highlighted at a major event in Hartlepool.
The town hosted the North East dinner and annual meeting of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) at Hartlepool College of Further Education.
Eighty people attended and FSB national chairman John Allan was guest speaker.
He said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of local communities, generating wealth, employment and opportunity. People take notice. Sixty four per cent of every pound spent with a small firm stays in the local economy. That means that £746m stays in the local economy, helping small businesses to grow.”
Mr Allan said the only request from FSB members was they were “given a level playing field” with bigger companies in areas such as business rates, and car parking charges.
Keynote speaker was Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, the Shadow Minister for Competitiveness and Enterprise. He described the FSB as “extraordinarily useful in making sure that policy makers are aware of the real issues that ordinary hard-working businesses are facing.”
Mr Wright hailed Hartlepool as “the true capital of the North East” and said the college was “a fantastic jewel in the crown.”
He said the North East was a traditional centre for innovation, enterprise and dynamism, highlighting Sir William Gray shipyard in Hartlepool for producing the first oil tanker, Robert Stephenson for building locomotives and the Davy Lamp - first used at Hebburn Colliery.
But he added: “We are not a museum piece. Enterprise in this area is not hanging on the past.”
He said the town’s business people were the “worthy and great successors”, doing more than their fair share to be successful.
Hartlepool FSB branch chairman Pamela Hargreaves said: “Despite everything that the Government may have thrown at us, this is all about success and achievement, and overcoming challenges to thrive and to grow.”
She thanked the regional dinner sponsors Mobeus, Amacus, Hartlepool College of Further Education, Poppys and Platinum Flowers. She also praised Angela Bell from Platinum Flowers for making the floral table displays for the evening. A raffle was also held, with the proceeds going to Epilepsy Outlook and Hartlepool Families First.