Business Leaders Urged To Join Support Scheme as Second Phase Launched

Business & Invest | Published on: 15th June 2021

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen had today (15 June) called on local businesses looking to grow to sign up for a support network scheme as it enters a new phase.

The Peer Networks scheme links owners of small and medium-sized businesses across the region so that they can connect to tackle challenges, take advantage of opportunities, share knowledge and gain new insights.

The Tees Valley has recently been hitting headlines with a number of good news stories, such as the announcement that hundreds of civil service jobs are being relocated to Darlington, and that the area was successful in securing the UK’s largest Freeport.

Likeminded business bosses can use the Peer Networks scheme to work together and explore what this news, and other developments in the region, could mean for them, through free structured group sessions of around ten people.

Mayor Houchen said: “The past year has been a difficult time for businesses of all types across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool but as we continue to come out of the other side of the coronavirus pandemic and recover our economy, there are lots of new opportunities too.

“The Peer Network helps our fantastic SME businesses, the lifeblood of our economy, to come together and share their ideas, strategies and solutions to help one another grow.

“The response to the pandemic has shown how strong we can be when we all pull together and work towards a common goal, and there’ll undoubtedly be plenty of business owners who have unique insights into how they responded that will be incredibly useful to others.

“I’d call on any business leader looking for valuable industry insight, or with plenty of their own to offer others, to sign up and get working smarter.”

One company that has seen success through the scheme is Darlington-based On Track Learning, which provides online lessons for business development. Owner Andy Pearce signed up for the scheme as he was looking to balance the firm’s growth potential with its survival in the face of the pandemic.

Andy said: “The events allowed the most useful aspect of the support to shine through, which was the insight and reflections from my peers. By structuring each meeting, it ensured we could share problems and ideas in a way that allowed honesty without criticism, feedback without fear, meaning the conversations were actually useful with actionable insight, not just discussion.

“The one-to-one coaching from an experienced businessperson who is in the same sector as me was a real game changer as it was what I needed to wrestle with my challenge.

“Don’t face business challenges alone or rely on your internal team, share the challenge at a Peer Group Network meeting and you will be enriched with a variety of views and responses allowing you to make decisions and move forward in the direction your business needs.”

The scheme, which is now open to new applicants, is delivered by the Tees Valley Business service which was launched by Mayor Houchen and the Combined Authority as an easy-to-access one-stop shop for business support.

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