Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has shared his ten-year strategic investment plan at a special breakfast event held at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool.

The Mayor spoke about his dedication to grow the region and how the new Tees Valley Business Fund, to be launched in January, will provide grants and repayable finance for companies, complementing the existing Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and wider business support offer.

Waltons Clark Whitehill, chartered accountants and business advisers, hosted the event bringing local businesses together, with the opportunity to network and hear from a panel of local experts including Grant Peggie, British Business Bank, Alan Hodgson, Hodgson Fish, John Carling, Solutions Northern and Mike Russell, Tees Valley Combined Authority, who are all passionate about the economic growth and investment of the area.

Mayor Houchen said: “Small and medium sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy; they account for more than 99% of all businesses in the Tees Valley.

“I speak with great businesses in Hartlepool and across the Tees Valley every day, just the other week I visited Hodgson Fish, an amazing company that has been around in the town for more than 100 years. I’m blown away by the entrepreneurialism, the innovation and great ideas we have in our area and I want to take support to a whole new level with our new Tees Valley Business Fund.

“Businesses need to be able to crack on and do what they’re good at. The new fund will be as quick, easy and responsive to use as possible. It will be user-friendly and will allow us to get more money to more businesses as quickly as possible so that they can invest, grow and create the good quality well-paid jobs the people of the Tees Valley deserve.”

Gillian Baker, Business Growth Consultant at Waltons Clark Whitehill, who is a wealth of experience in helping companies apply for the Tees Valley grant, and others available, chaired the event and panel discussion, where each of the panellists provided a unique insight into their roles, organisations and the changing investment landscape.

Gillian said “It was fantastic to get local businesses together, for them to have the opportunity to ask questions directly to Ben and the panel of guests. It was great to hear the strategic investment plans for the area and the rationale behind the ten-year plan.

“We recently worked with Hodgson Fish, assisting them to receive £28k funding to fully automate their customer journey with new state of the art point of sale packing stations.

“It was great to have Alan on the panel to share his personal and business journey as to how they have grown their 5th generation family business, into a successful multi-award-winning business.”

Gillian Baker continued: “The event had a great turnout and it was great to receive comments from attendees such as “Passionate and positive talk by Ben and the other panel members,” and “Ben’s enthusiasm for the Tees Valley was infectious. His presentation was uplifting and reminded us that the Tees Valley is a great place and we should be really proud of our region.”