TWO thousand jobs were created after North-East businesses benefitted from more than £23m of European Regional Development Fund money last year, it has been announced.

The fund helped 22 projects, ranging from assistance for start-ups to nurturing graduate talent, helping about 3,300 companies boost their business across the region.

The fund’s five-year Competitiveness Programme, which runs from 2007 to this year and is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, has invested £257m out of its £320m budget to support innovation, enterprise and business.

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Durham County Councillor Neil Foster, who is deputy chair of the North East England Local Management Committee (LMC) which helps to oversee of the delivery of the fund programme in the region, said: “The North East ERDF Programme has had another successful year ensuring excellent projects are approved which are contributing to local economic growth bringing new businesses and jobs.

“As a direct result of ERDF investments in 2012, over 2,000 jobs are being created and over 300 safeguarded, around 300 businesses are being created and nearly 3,300 businesses are being supported to improve their performance or increase their green credentials.

“The Programme Delivery Team will be working closely with projects in 2013 to ensure that the Programme fully commits its ERDF resources ensuring every available pound is used to continue supporting local economic growth and help communities prosper.”