I came to the North East in 2003 and have been working to attract capital for businesses here ever since. Looking back, the investment community in the region has achieved a lot and built up a reputation as a place where small businesses can thrive.
Over the last 5 years Rivers Capital has seen more than 1000 businesses looking for equity and loan finance from our two funds and more than 400 have received investment.
The combined investment from the North East Angel Fund, Micro Loan Fund and our private investors, have put a total of about £20 million into local businesses.
Our region has probably had more finance invested here per head than any part of the UK. A large amount of this is due to the work of North East Finance (NEF) in securing £142m of UK government and European capital back in 2009; the "JEREMIE" Funds.
So far this investment has created almost 2,000 new jobs and safeguarded almost 3,000 across the region. In addition, a further £138m of funding has been leveraged into the region from private investors.
Most business sectors have benefited, although inevitably there have been clusters around our larger urban and industrial conurbations, which include Tees Valley where we're also active.
Our Funds come from NEF, plus the Business Angel investors we have brought along. My message today is to remind everyone we need to shout about the success of these Funds and the work that North East Finance has done in securing and managing the contracts with fund managers like me to find the businesses and make the investments.
The next step is a further proposed £160m package for the region being planned at the moment to build on the current activity next year. These funds are important and need all of us to support the case for further JEREMIE investment for the North East.
Yes, I have a vested interest here, but I'm passionate about the success of our region. That's why I moved my family here and have built Rivers Capital with my own and partners cash as a private venture firm doing what I know best bidding for and investing cash.
So next time someone says they can't find investment remind them it's out there, come to see us and put in a good word for North East Finance and the JEREMIE Funds with your MP, Euro MP, Council, LEP and the government.