The strength of the Hartlepool economy will be founded on the strength of its businesses.
Good, profitable companies, often doing business with one another, will help improve the town’s economy and hopefully will help to ensure that more and more people from Hartlepool are employed.
Having a strong network of businesses sharing ideas, opportunities and potential is one of the hallmarks of a great business community.
At an extreme level, that is what happens in Silicon Valley – tech firms and entrepreneurs regularly meet up and interact as a means of sparking off new ideas and opportunities.
I’m nothing if not ambitious for the businesses of Hartlepool – if it’s good enough for the likes of Twitter and Apple, why not the firms of the town – and so I really support the new idea set up by two Hartlepool entrepreneurs.
Hartlepool Hour only started as an initiative in December and is going from strength to strength.
It was started by Lucy Pattison, of business therapy group JCSP, and Heidi Readman-Ahmed, from Make Scents Limited, a firm specialising in cosmetics and beauty products.
The idea behind Hartlepool Hour is for firms in the town to share ideas and interact as a means of boosting their profile, taking advantage of new ideas and collaborating with other companies and organisations to boost economic activity.
It’s a simple and great idea and many companies are coming on board.
There are three Twitter sessions each week as part of Hartlepool Hour, each lasting – of course – an hour. These are Tuesday between 3 and 4, Wednesday at 7 until 8, and Sunday between 6 and 7.
The Group’s Twitter account is @HartlepoolHour and find out what businesses are doing and interact using the hashtag #HartlepoolHour. The group also has a Facebook page.
The group often meets up in person rather than on social media.
At one such event in The Fishermans Arms – any excuse to get into that great Headland pub – I was able to attend.
A few things struck me at that gathering.
Firstly, it’s incredibly informal and very friendly.
Nobody who turns up for the first time should feel intimidated. People are made to feel very welcome.
Secondly, I was pleased to see a high proportion of female entrepreneurs, setting up their businesses for the first time and wanting to share experiences and avoid the pitfalls of business with somebody similar.
The number of women wanting to start their own business in Hartlepool is growing and is hugely welcome.
And finally, it was striking how great ideas and opportunities were being raised.
While I was there at the meeting, several organisations got together to think about possible commercial opportunities.
Hartlepool Hour is like a great dating agency for businesses of the town, hopefully coming together to win even more business and produce more employment opportunity and job creation for the town.
I hope if you are an entrepreneur in Hartlepool, whether an established business or thinking about setting up, you will become part of the Hartlepool Hour community.
You’ll be made to feel very welcome and I think you’ll get something positive out of it.