A business expert with a track record in helping small companies achieve their ambitions has been appointed chair of an economic recovery taskforce in County Durham.
Simon Hanson, development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), will lead the taskforce, which has been set up by County Durham Economic Partnership (CDEP) in response to the significant challenges the coronavirus pandemic presents.
CDEP is a multi-agency group, bringing together key partners including Durham County Council and other public, private, voluntary and community organisations to promote the economic wellbeing of the county. The new taskforce will focus on helping businesses and charities across the county to recover from the economic impacts of the lockdown and social distancing measures.
Simon Hanson, who also recently took up the post of CDEP chair, brings a wealth of experience to the role, having helped thousands of businesses identify and overcome challenges over the last 15 years. He has spent the last decade with the FSB, representing the interests of more than 4,000 small businesses across the North East.
Simon will be joined by 17 other representatives from a range of sectors, including officers from the council’s public health and regeneration teams; its economic development arm, Business Durham; and its tourism destination management organisation Visit County Durham. There will also be representatives from local colleges, Durham University, Durham Community Action and the North East Chamber of Commerce.
Together, the taskforce will produce a COVID-19 recovery plan, addressing priorities such as coordinating the reopening of town centres, providing businesses with advice and guidance, engaging with major employers in the county and lobbying the government on gaps in its current support measures for businesses.
Simon said: “There’s no doubting that County Durham will be at the heart of the recovery of the wider North East economy.
“Bringing together a wide range of partners will ensure that we’re responding to the challenges that we face whilst grasping the opportunities to drive our economic growth.
“Our taskforce will pull together an ambitious plan that will ensure that we fulfil this and deliver right across the county. Getting this right will help us build on the significant strengths we have including a world leading university, globally ambitious businesses and a can-do spirit in local communities.”
Cllr Carl Marshall, the council’s Cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: “In County Durham, the public and private sector has a history of working together to celebrate the people and businesses that make our county great. Our Powered by People campaign is a fantastic example of this and has really put County Durham on the map as a place to do business.
“This collaborative approach is more important than ever and is at the heart of CDEP and our new economic recovery taskforce. Our strategy will focus on the short and medium-term steps needed to support businesses during the release from lockdown and as we adapt to the ‘new normal.’ It will also look at the longer-term rebuilding of the county’s economy, with partners working together to grow places, services and industries.”
As well as offering direct support to businesses, such as workforce retention support and help to access markets, the group will also look at key recovery issues for individual sectors of the economy. These include the rural, manufacturing, tourism, retail, health, service, construction and distribution sectors. It will also explore cross-over themes such as transport links, logistics and spatial impact and liaise with national and regional partners to share best-practice. To find out more about the support on offer to businesses during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, visit