Mayor - Steel announcement another jobs blow for area

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Hartlepool suffered another devastating blow last week with Tata Steel’s announcement that they are to shed 300 jobs on Teesside, 90 of which at their site on Brenda Road.

It came in a week which saw the first anniversary of the closure of Garlands at a cost of 621 jobs.

When you add in the jobs that have been lost in the public sector over the last year due to the Government cut backs and the fact that youth unemployment is one of the highest rates in the country, the economic picture for the town doesn’t look great on paper.

That said, although there has been a gradual rise in over all unemployment, we have had a few months where the figures have gone in the right direction.

With all the doom and gloom around, it is easy to overlook some of the more positive stories about Hartlepool businesses and this couldn’t have been more evident at last week’s business awards.

Once again, there were over 100 entries into the 10 different categories which gave the judges an extremely difficult task of drawing up a shortlist.

Nonetheless, they managed and the culmination of months of hard work was a fantastic evening at the Borough Hall.

The event was a sell-out which, in the current financial climate, says a huge amount about how important local businesses think it is to recognise some of the positive achievements of each other.

Sponsorship of an event like is always going to be the most difficult challenge but, once again, I was delighted by the response and support of local business to this event because, without that support, it quite simply would not have happened.

The shortlist of finalists made for interesting reading and really showed what a diverse range of small and medium enterprises we have in the town.

It was especially encouraging, as it is every year, to see plenty of new names on the list.

There are loads of extremely successful firms in Hartlepool who go about their business pretty much unrecognised but I think businesses should shout about their achievements once in a while and help inspire other local businesses to push on and emulate their success.

I’ve also had plenty of feedback over the years that just by getting on the shortlist for these awards has given businesses that extra profile and helped them become more successful. It definitely is worth entering in future.

It was a glittering ceremony and you could have cut the tension in the room with a knife.

The delight and pride on the faces of the winners stood out a mile and showed just how important it was that their company was successful.

The vast majority of the finalists were businesses that were run and owned by local people and many of them had been started up from nothing.

Of course people run a business to make money but for all of the finalists, the reasons for being in business are much more than that.

The will to succeed and pride in what they do carry just as much weight, if not more.

Positive recognition from their clients is a must in their day-to-day work or they would not get very far but to get the same type of recognition from their peers doesn’t necessarily happen very often so I would suggest it is that bit more special.

I must give a special mention to the Business of the Year 2011.

Working in an industry that only ever brings with it negative publicity, J&B Recycling absolutely stand out as a shining example of how a business involved in waste disposal and recycling should operate.

Vicky Jackson-Smith operates her business, which employs more than 100 local people, from two sites on the Longhill Industrial estate.

A few years ago, she nearly lost everything in a fire that devastated the business. The company has bounced back big time and has contracts all over the region including with Hartlepool Borough Council.

I’ve been down to visit the business on a few occasions and have never failed to be impressed by the operation and especially by Vicky’s passion and drive to make the business succeed.

As the town looks to diversify into the eco-economy, it will be a pleasure to have J&B Recycling leading the way and setting the standard in that industry that other should aspire to and follow. Well done Vicky and the team at J&B Recycling and many congratulations to all the winners and those who made the short-list for this year’s awards.