Call to firms to take advantage of cash fund

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A REGENERATION chief has revealed plans which could help strengthen smaller Hartlepool firms.

Stephen Catchpole, the managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited, said TVU had launched a £76m bid for cash in the second round of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). It is one of two bids for money from Teesside but this pot will target smaller local firms, if the Government approves the bid, he said.

But he urged companies to show an interest in wanting to grab the cash.

Speaking at a meeting of the Teesside Mussel Club, at Wynyard Hall Hotel, near Hartlepool, he said other cash pots such as the JEREMIE fund – which backs small and medium sized companies through equity, loans or guarantees – are already under way and yet Teesside firms are shunning the chance to take it.

JEREMIE has £25m available in the North-East alone but Teesside firms have only accessed 10 per cent of it when the area has 30 per cent of the region’s businesses.

Mr Catchpole said he did not want to see a similar problem with RGF money. “If we win RGF 2, the last thing we want is the area not taking it up. It is no good having a pot of money if no-one accesses it.”

To have a successful future, Teesside’s firms must shout about their strengths on a larger scale, he said.

He added: “There are some fantastic assets here to build on and we should be focusing on what we have got. We need to be single-minded about what we can do.

“By and large, our own talent will take us to the successful future we want and deserve.”

He told the 40-strong audience there was a “new mood of optimism” in the Tees Valley thanks to the ambitious regeneration plans which also included the proposals for an Enterprise Zone.

He explained why TVU was putting its weight behind major investment plans now.

“The time to plan for growth is when you are in a trough. Lift your eyes and start saying ‘when growth comes, how can we take advantage of it’.”