Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Learning How Best to Grow

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Learning How Best to Grow

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Lloyd

Activities in economic regeneration are spearheaded in County Durham by the County Durham Development Company (CDDC), the business development and inward investment arm of Durham County Council.

During the past 12 months, CDDC handled around 1,100 enquiries on a variety of business issues, including financial incentives, trade grants, sites and premises. And it assisted in creating or retaining almost 2,600 jobs in County Durham.

More than half of these jobs will come from expansion of existing companies, while a further 500 will come from new business start-ups.

Throughout the year, CDDC provided more than pounds 650,000 to 154 projects through the council's Financial Incentives to Business scheme.

In addition, pounds 15,000 was provided in trade grants to help County Durham companies explore new markets at home and abroad.

However, County Durham operates in a global economy and, in what has proved to be another difficult year, it has suffered its share of job losses.

While it would be easy to become discouraged by the gloomy picture that headlines sometimes paint, there are still encouraging signs and businesses reporting healthy growth.

As part of our aftercare programme, we visit around 200 companies in the county each year. During recent visits almost three quarters of the companies we have seen voiced a cautious optimism about their future prospects.

Increasingly, however, business opportunities are likely to occur in the knowledge-based industries. So, with our partners, we have embarked on an imaginative project to create a home for these new technologies at Sedgefield NetPark, the North-East Technology Park.

This forward-looking project will create an environment allowing businesses to develop in an atmosphere of innovation and excellence, using the skills of their own teams and the collective expertise of the region's universities.

In fact, NetPark's links with the region's universities will be central to its evolution.

The first building to go up will be the NetPark Institute, providing a home for two research groups from Durham University - the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation (CfAI) and the Digital Enterprise Technology (DET)/Agility project. …

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