Zone ‘sites’ under scrutiny

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EXPERTS are stepping up the search for the site of a Tees Valley Enterprise Zone.

And with just one month remaining until a likely spot is revealed, Hartlepool remains in the running to become part of the money-spinning zone which could attract massive new business into the town.

Tees Valley Unlimited is the group which is leading the bid to bring in investment to the area.

Its bosses are working with council chiefs to choose the best site possible.

They are remaining tight-lipped though on where the contenders are and how many are in the running.

A TVU spokesman said today: “We are in the process of assessing the potential sites across all five boroughs, and are in talks with various land owners.

“Recommendations will go to the Leadership Board after which we hope to start with the public activity around choosing the site.”

Tees Valley was revealed as the site of an Enterprise Zone in the Budget earlier this year.

Bsinesses which move into an EZ will get a business rate relief of £55,000 per year for up to five years.

The zone will also be eligible for Government cash to introduce superfast broadband networks.

Damien Wilson, the assistant director of regeneration and planning at Hartlepool Borough Council, has previously told the Mail that major companies are already willing to invest in the town if it does become part of the zone.

A report on the chosen zone will go before the leadership board meeting of Tees Valley Unlimited on Wednesday, June 8, and then to the Government by the end of June.

Meanwhile, a £1 billion pot of money is up for grabs in the second round of a fund aimed to boost businesses.

And to find out more on how to clinch a share, entrepreneurs are being invited to a meeting in Hartlepool.

Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for the area, is encouraging bids from local firms.

To find out more, people are being encouraged to attend meetings which will discuss the issue and one is planned at the Historic Quay in Hartlepool on Tuesday, May 17, with registration at 5pm for a 5.30pm start.

Stephen Catchpole, managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited, will speak at the meeting and will address issues such as who qualifies for the fund, what sort of projects can bid, how much is available, who decides on the companies which will get the money and what is the process involved.

Anyone interested in attending should email sally.bainbridge@teesvalleyunlimited.gov.uk or call (01642) 524400.