Thursday, 11 December 2008

New Credit Crunch Initiatives Announced for Local Business

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has just hosted an event with senior regional representatives from the major banks operating in the North West in an effort to co-ordinate support for local and regional businesses affected by the ongoing economic downturn.

The NWDA says the meeting was part of the coordinated response by public sector and the banks to discuss the provision of loans to businesses and how they can work together to support businesses as the credit crunch continues to bite and the banks involved have issued an assurance from the banks that they are still providing new lending and renewing existing facilities to businesses in the region.

“This was a constructive first meeting with an honest exchange of views which gave us a good overview of how the banks are responding to the current economic challenges," commented Vanda Murray, Deputy Chair of the NWDA Board, "and how we can work together to support businesses in our region.

“We discussed the range of public sector support and what actions can be taken to help the banks to mitigate the current financial crisis in the short term, while examining opportunities to improve business confidence for the region to support the eventual upturn in the economy”.

The meeting resulted in a number of actions and agreement to develop a joint action plan to promote awareness of the range of public sector products within the banks themselves; make businesses aware of the business support services of Business Link Northwest including Access to Finance; refer potential businesses that have viable business plans but aren’t bankable to the NWDA’s Small Loans for Business product providing loans between £3,000 to £50,000; and establish a network of contacts and champions across the region to support businesses in accessing support.

Bi-monthly meetings will also take place between the NWDA and the banks to review the current state of the economy and progress on supporting businesses.

This latest development is one of several initiatives announced by various government agencies to support local business. Business Link North West, a business support, advice and information service funded by government and managed in the North West by the Northwest Regional Development Agency recently published a guide to "beating the credit crunch" on its web site.

At a conference in Cumbria yesterday, local councils were urged to be prepared to rip up their rule books to help the county through the recession. The Cumberland News reports that some of the region’s top economic experts were at a seminar at Carlisle Racecourse organised by the Cumbria Strategic Partnership to plot the county’s route through the credit crunch and the economic downturn.

Tim Knowles, Cumbria County Council portfolio holder for economic development, said local authorities must not be hidebound by legal processes and must be nimble to exploit opportunities to soften the impact of the recession.

“From the county council’s point of view, I think we are going to have to hack through some red tape and break from the old traditional processes to get things through that on another day people wouldn’t allow us to."

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