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Mayor Launches Back To Business Fund

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen | Tees Valley Combined Authority

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has launched a new support fund to give small and medium-sized businesses in the hospitality, tourism and events industry the help they need as they begin to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The £250,000 Back to Business Fund will allow firms to get direct professional support, advice and guidance in areas such as HR, accountancy, legal, financial, health and safety, IT and digital to aid their recovery and future growth.

This will support businesses within the visitor sector to develop new business strategies, cashflow planning, new HR policies and changes to digital methods including shifts to online trading.

Grants between £1,000 and £3,000 will be available and Mayor Houchen is encouraging businesses operating in the hospitality and visitor economy across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to get in touch and apply.

Mayor Houchen also wants to hear from professional advisors who are interested in offering their services. Their details and a brief description will be published on the Tees Valley Business website so those businesses in need can be pointed in the right direction.

Speaking to an online meeting of the Tees Valley Business Club at which he first announced the fund, Mayor Houchen said: “As the next stage in my coronavirus recovery plan to welcome back businesses across the Tees Valley, I am pleased to announce the launch of a new fund to provide support through professional advice and services.

“Across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, we know that we have a wealth of professional advisors that can provide the advice, support and guidance that many of our businesses require at this difficult time.

“It is crucially important that we work together and support our businesses to drive forward our economy during the recovery from coronavirus and to shape a better future for our region.

Our hospitality and visitor businesses are hugely important. Not only do they play a key role in supporting thousands of local jobs in our economy, they also bring so much joy to local people. That’s why I’ve made supporting them a priority in my jobs plan for the economic recovery of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. This is why I launched a £1million Welcome Back Fund to support the pubs, restaurants, cafes and venues which promote our visitor economy and help them to reopen.

“In delivering this new programme, I’m keen for our amazing small and medium sized hospitality, tourism and events businesses to benefit from the experience we have in the region so they can get the support they need.

“Whilst Government has introduced a number of unprecedented financial measures to support businesses, it is equally important that locally I do my bit to help. We know what the support the businesses need in our area and I will continue to do everything I can to help.”

Mayor Houchen has already outlined a £1million package of support for front-line hospitality and tourism businesses across the region to help them reopen in time for summer.

Chair of Tees Valley Business Club, Jane Reynolds MBE said: “Despite the challenging times, our members have continued to utilise the strong business network we have in the Tees Valley, sharing best practice to help us move forward as a region. The Mayor has remained close to those members, attending our monthly virtual events to understand specific challenges and provide updates as to his plans. This evening’s announcement is another example of the positive steps implemented by Ben and the Combined Authority to support businesses to help them gather momentum as lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted.”

Visitor economy businesses interested in applying for funding should initially submit an expression on interest through the online form available on the Tees Valley Business website at www.teesvalleybusiness.com.

The project is receiving £301,197 of funding from the England European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) are the Managing Authorities for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development.

By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.