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Tees Valley Business Compass is celebrating its first year after supporting nearly 500 businesses and start-ups across the region.

The local growth hub has completed a total of 486 diagnostics on Tees Valley-based companies and 584 appointments with business owners since January, supporting and advising them on funding opportunities, as well as securing grants to supplement growth.

The largest project it has supported was on behalf of Stockton-based catering firm Direct Line Supplies, worth £118,200, with Tees Valley Business Compass awarding a £39,006 Business Growth Grant to support the company’s marketing, sales management platform and mobile app.

In addition, Tees Valley Business Compass has delivered six events across the five local authority areas in Tees Valley, including business growth surgeries with a number of the region’s leading organisations.

Tees Valley Business Compass is the local growth hub delivered by BE Group on behalf of Tees Valley Combined Authority.

The support available for companies comes from an investment of more than £9.5m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), secured by Tees Valley Combined Authority. Support is available for growth, along with projects that increase broadband connectivity, research and development, innovation, and energy efficiency.

Tees Valley Business Compass comprises a team of Growth Consultants that regularly engage with local businesses across the Tees Valley.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Creating jobs in Tees Valley, real jobs that can support families, means supporting small businesses as they grow. The Combined Authority invested in the Business Compass Service to create a team of Growth Consultants that are reaching out to small, growing firms and giving them the resources and confidence to scale up.

“I know from speaking to small businesses throughout the Tees Valley that each one has different issues to tackle and support needs. I have big plans to develop the service even further over the coming months to ensure we have an even more comprehensive offer to local companies.”

Karen Jones, Senior Project Manager at Tees Valley Business Compass, said: “We have enjoyed an exceptional first year supporting some of Tees Valley’s thriving companies fulfil their growth ambitions. It has been a pleasure to help nearly 500 businesses, as well as support many more at our events held across the five local authority areas – ranging from start-ups and SMEs at different stages of their development.

“2018 will bring more challenges and opportunities for firms operating across Tees Valley. We are looking forward to continuing to support and help drive growth across the region and wider economy through our services.”