We first found out about Business Durham when it was suggested that grant funding may be available to support some of the growth plans we had for 2014. Andrea McGuigan came to see us and explained Business Durham's goals in helping businesses as well as the financial and non-financial support we could access directly and indirectly. Following her advice we successfully accessed grant funds to support three projects, all of which we would have struggled with, or avoided entirely, had it not been for the funding connections.
Andrea is very personable and clearly tries her utmost to support the success and growth of local businesses. Andrea introduced us to other opportunities under the Business Durham umbrella, including the Future Business Magnates schools competition (I am now a business mentor to a local school team) and the excellent work in bringing together local business communities to cooperate, network and grow. Having seen the success of the established Newton Aycliffe business group, I was keen to support Andrea with a similar group for Chester-le-Street industrial estates. It includes a core of committed local businesses, police staff and council organisations who can see the benefit of working together to push local issues and to improve and market the industrial estate. Andrea chairs these meetings and pulls in relevant council contacts covering aspects from pest control to planners and councillors. Andrea has been vital in the success of this fledgling group - her hard work and that of her Business Durham colleagues has been of direct benefit to Steelcraft Ltd in the past year and, I am certain, to local businesses and the County as a whole.