Huge backing for our businesses

Shown (left to right) are Darren Hankey, Pam Hargreaves, Janice Auton, Sarah Ainslie, Jo Shephers and Andrew Steel.
Shown (left to right) are Darren Hankey, Pam Hargreaves, Janice Auton, Sarah Ainslie, Jo Shephers and Andrew Steel.

A COLLEGE principal has stressed the importance of local business.

Darren Hankey, the principal and chief executive of Hartlepool College of Further Education, spoke out in advance of a major seminar in Hartlepool.

His comments came as the town prepared to host the regional dinner and annual meeting of the Federation of Small Businesses.

The event will be held at the college in Stockton Street on Thursday, November 21.

Delegates from throughout the region will be there for one of the most important events in the FSB calendar.

Mr Hankey said: “Small businesses are vital to the Hartlepool, Tees Valley and North East economy.

“Most people are employed by small and medium sized enterprises. Growing the number of small businesses and ensuring they survive is a key strategy in terms of overcoming the economic challenges the area faces.”

Mr Hankey added: “The FSB does an excellent job in both representing and promoting small businesses.”

Hartlepool FSB branch chair Pam Hargreaves said there were “lots of positive signs of development and improvement” in Hartlepool and the town should celebrate its achievements.

She described the town as having “an incredible amount of talent and a number of businesses providing world-class, unique and world-leading technology and services.

“We are really hoping for a good show of Hartlepool businesses at the regional dinner to illustrate to the rest of the region just how vibrant our business community actually is.”

The guest speaker will be the federation’s national chairman John Allan.

The keynote speaker will be Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, the Shadow Minister for Competitiveness & Enterprise in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Mr Hankey said: “The college is extremely proud to be hosting this event.”

The evening’s proceedings start with the FSB annual meeting from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. This is only open to FSB members.

It will be followed by a drinks reception from 7.30pm and the annual dinner from 8pm to 11pm.

Tickets for the dinner cost £10 for FSB members and £25 for non-members and guests. They are available from