A £500m funding pot has been launched to boost businesses in the region.
Barclays has stumped up the cash as part of its growth fund for small and medium-sized businesses in the Northern Powerhouse region.
The new fund offers favourable terms for manufacturing, transport and logistics companies, helping them to grow and create new jobs.
Jes Staley, Barclays Group CEO, said: “Barclays has been helping businesses across the North to succeed since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, when we financed the world’s first steam locomotive passenger railway between Stockton and Darlington.
“Today, we face new economic challenges and opportunities posed by the digital revolution, the growth in competition from emerging markets, and of course, Brexit.
“The Northern Powerhouse is an initiative which, if delivered, would help the whole country to meet that challenge and take those economic opportunities. That is why I’m delighted to announce our £500 million Northern Powerhouse Growth Fund, enabling businesses across the North to invest in jobs and growth.
“As the UK prepares for Brexit, it’s vitally important that businesses, civic leaders and Government work together to make the Northern Powerhouse a reality. That means supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, but it also means providing more ways into high quality work.”
The initiative has been backed by Dukinfield-based business Artko’s managing director Tim Pellow.
“The idea of a fund to support SMEs in the North is very welcome news and comes at a crucial time with businesses struggling with the current climate and the uncertainty over Brexit,” he said.
“Having a fund in place which SMEs can turn to will provide a lifeline to access funds which can be used to support and strengthen businesses in a variety of areas.
“Research and development for new products and markets, developing and training staff or investment in machinery and infrastructure. All areas that will strengthen businesses at a crucial time.
“We have exciting growth plans in place, the most pressing of which involves the purchase of new and larger premises. We will require assistance from Barclays if we are to commit to such a large investment and we see the fund as a great opportunity to support this project.”
Sir Richard Leese, deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester and board member on the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, commended the initiative.
“Small and medium-sized businesses have a crucial role to play in Greater Manchester’s economy,” he said.
“Anything which supports their growth and success, and helps us towards our goal of realising our full economic potential to create the maximum number of jobs and opportunities and help rebalance the national economy, is to be welcomed.”
Small Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “This Government is fully behind the entrepreneurs delivering jobs, growth and greater choice for consumers so it’s great to see businesses like Barclays providing further investment to help Northern SMEs start-up and grow.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, with over 1,000 being created every day across the country supporting nearly 3 million jobs and generating revenues of more than £200 billion in the North of England alone. Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are building a Britain in which they will continue to thrive.”
Northern Powerhouse Partnership vice-chair Lord Jim O’Neill said: “I have consistently said that for the Northern Powerhouse to be a success and deliver a more balanced economy for the whole of the UK requires the support and vision of the North’s leading businesses.
“This major fund from Barclays will significantly increase the potential of our SMEs across the Northern Powerhouse to embrace the next Industrial Revolution, incorporating innovation such as robotics and AI into everything they do.
“There is real momentum growing in the Northern Powerhouse, and I hope the commitment Barclays and their CEO Jes Staley have demonstrated today will be matched by our political leaders in Whitehall so the Northern Powerhouse can truly fulfil its potential.”
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