THE key to Hartlepool’s economic prosperity could lie in the Tees Valley city deal bid – and in getting schools to develop the next generation of business bosses.
That was the prediction today of Damien Wilson, the Hartlepool Borough Council assistant director of regeneration as he spoke to the Mail about the challenges facing the town in 2013.
But he admitted it was a tough challenge in a town where youth unemployment was the third highest in England and Wales.
“It’s a big challenge and we have to try and crack that nut,” said Mr Wilson, above. “We have to persuade existing employers to consider apprenticeships and these could hang on the Tees Valley wide city deal bid.
“We have to make sure that the Tees Valley bid puts forward our investment opportunities and our job creation opportunities. We have to create modern apprenticeships and wider investment plans.”
The Tees Valley, including Hartlepool, is one of 14 areas bidding for a city deal. If successful, it will be invited to negotiate a deal with the Government allowing some powers to be devolved from Whitehall. But in order to succeed, Tees Valley has to show – by January 15, 2013 – how it will create growth and new jobs.
Mr Wilson said: “We have got one chance to be successful. It could give us a greater degree of control at a local level. We have to convince the Government that we have a credible governing structure in place.”
The cities bidding for the deal are: the Black Country, Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Greater Cambridge, Coventry and Warwickshire, Hull and Humber, Ipswich, Leicester and Leicestershire, Milton Keynes, Greater Norwich, Oxford and Central Oxfordshire, Reading, Plymouth, Preston and Lancashire, Southampton and Portsmouth, Southend, Stoke and Staffordshire, Sunderland and the North East, Swindon and Wiltshire, and Tees Valley.
But a city deal is not the only area of hope for Hartlepool.
Mr Wilson added: “We have got to start to grow our own businesses at a higher rate than we are currently doing.
“We need to encourage entrepreneurship as early as possible and that is primary school as well as comprehensive school.”
The scarcity of jobs is a problem but Mr Wilson said: “If you are an entrepreneur, you can create your own job. That is the challenge for schools as well as individuals and agencies.”