Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Has Plan to Back Businesses with PS20m Capital Fund; FUNDING

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Has Plan to Back Businesses with PS20m Capital Fund; FUNDING

Article excerpt


UP to 2,000 North East jobs are set to be created or safeguarded through a PS20m business support fund being launched by Durham County Council.

Finance Durham, which represents a first for the North East, will be run as a venture capital loan scheme, investing in up to 70 County Durham businesses throughout the next decade, with sums ranging from PS200,000 to PS2m.

Around 10% of the money will be set aside to fund startup incubation, while the remainder will be targeted towards high-growth SMEs.

While plans for the initiative have been drawn up based on a 10-year model, the council is classifying it as 'evergreen', meaning it is potentially unlimited in duration.

>Coun Neil Cabinet portfolio holder for regeneration and economic development Coun Neil Forster said: "Since we became a unitary authority, the economy has been our number one focus.

"Over the years, we've had various strategies in place when it comes to engaging with businesses like Atom Bank and Polyphotonix, and have been exploring how we can take that forward.

"This is the next stage in our work to encourage the creation of business in Durham. It's a great spot and this fund is a positive way in which to promote it."

Head of economic development and housing Sarah Robson added that the move was a "game-changer" that illustrated the council's progressive approach to nurturing business. "There are examples of others, such as Birmingham, doing it and it's had a real impact," she said. "We recognised it would also be relevant to us as we're taking a long-term view of the local economy."

The scheme, which will go for approval by the council's cabinet next week, is being supported by capital funding generated through the disposal of council assets.

While assisting Durham-based companies and helping grow the economy, the council will in turn benefit to the tune of around PS6m over the 10-year model period. …

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