Volunteers stoke new enterprises

When the 200-year-old spirit of industrial enterprise fires the imagination of a Geordie or a Teessider, where can he turn for help in setting up a new business?

Aside from the district, county, and regional promotional offices, there are organizations specially geared to help the individual entrepreneur. Enterprise North, run out of the University of Durham, brings a voluntary organization of established businessmen together with would-be entrepreneurs. The university also runs the New Enterprise Development Programme (NEDP) and offers courses for managers beyond the regular post-graduate level.

Assistance in the form of grants and training also comes from the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas. This nationwide organization supports firms employing fewer than 20 skilled workers in towns with populations of more than 10,000 and is aimed at stemming the depopulation of rural areas.

Various packages of grants are also available locally. In Cleveland county, for example, expanding small firms qualify for subsidies of L20 ($44) a week for up to 26 weeks for each new job created.

Successful, too, has been the "nursery factory" scheme. They are designed to replace the shed at the bottom of the garden as the locus for experiment and innovation, and some of these sites have leases as short as one month.

A subsidiary of British Steel Corporation called BSC (Industry) Ltd. has been instrumental in providing such locations for steelworkers who wish to use their redundancy, or unemployment, pay to set up new businesses. At Hartlepool (rhymes with "smartly pool"), where unemployment stands at about 13 percent after deep cuts in steelmaking, the Hartlepool New Jobs Team has converted some of the unused plants into small units.

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