Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Firms Queue Up for Crunch Loans

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Firms Queue Up for Crunch Loans

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter McCusker

ALMOST pounds 1m has been handed to North East firms to help save jobs in the first few weeks of a new loan scheme to provide liquidity during the bank credit freeze and firms have applied for another pounds 3.5m.

Regional development agency One North East has made the cash available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through its Transition Loan Fund (TLF) and so far 70 companies have applied to get up to pounds 250,000 of cash since early December.

Last week ONE pumped an additional pounds 2m into the TLF this meaning there is now an pounds 8m pot available to help regional businesses.

Malcolm Page, ONE's deputy chief executive, said: "In the current economic conditions it is vital that businesses have access to the support they need as quickly as possible.

"We are determined to meet the challenge posed by these unprecedented economic times through a comprehensive and growing level of support to all regional businesses. One North East's board last week approved an extension to the Transition Loan Fund - topping it up to a total of pounds 8m.

"The fund has been boosted from pounds 2m due to the high demand from business - more than pounds 4.5m in loan applications have been received and pounds 999,000 in loans approved within the first three weeks of the fund being put in place."

Dan Brophy, chief executive of business support organisation Entrust, which helps administer TLF for ONE said: "We are seeing that in the current economic climate, even well established successful companies can have cash flow problems and we are encouraging businesses to seek help before it is too late."

As the economy headed south last year ONE unveiled a pounds 20m package of measures to help North East businesses through the recession.

In addition to the TLF, which has been rolled out across the UK with the backing on the Government, 67 firms have applied for help from a pounds 6m fund to assist new and growing businesses and a further 880 businesses have received free health checks from Business Link. …

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