It has been a busy start to the year developing the membership offer and running 2 events. The first event which focused on the RDPE Growth Programme, took place on 15th January.  Kindly sponsored by Parsons Containers, it was held at The Manor House in Sedgefield. We heard about Visit County Durham’s £1billion visitor economy aim from Craig Wilson, Destination Project Manager as well as the increasing demand for high-end accommodation, the launch of the Northern Saints Trails and Durham’s Year of Pilgrimage #Pilgrimage2020.

Joanne Metcalfe, Rural Surveyor, youngsRPS presented top tips on how best to complete the RDPE Growth Programme expression of interest form and answered a variety of questions that audience members had. Yvonne Gale, CEO, NEL Fund Managers then explained how The North East Small Loan Fund could help unlock grant funding. There was networking after the event and a queue for all of the speakers! It was great to see such support from everyone who shared the event to those who took time out to attended, our speakers and of course our sponsor.  We couldn’t have had a better inaugural event!

Our second event took place last Thursday (13th February) at Enterprise House in Barnard Castle and was sponsored by South Durham Enterprise Agency. Rural Business Support – County Durham was an informal event with 10 attendees. Everyone introduced themselves which enabled conversation throughout the event. Steve Robson, Chief Executive, South Durham Enterprise Agency explained how the agency can assist with business start-up and growth. Helen Watson, Digital Advisor, Digital Drive County Durham gave an overview of the programme and how it can provide fully funded digital health checks and training and also provided top tips on Google algorithms and website top tips. The final speaker was Guy Bashford, DBOP Business Engagement Office, Business Durham who explained that the overarching objective of the Durham Business Opportunities Programme is to identify barriers to growth and provide tailored support to overcome them. The evening concluded with networking which was great to see and I’m very grateful for the support from those who attended, our sponsor and speakers once again.

I am currently planning the next event which I hope to announce next week.