NORTH-EAST firms are being urged to bid for a £200m pot to create jobs and support growth.

The Government has launched the next round of its Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

Ministers say companies can apply for at least £1m to help expansion plans.

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Earlier this year, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg allocated £57m to support 11 North-East projects, creating and safeguarding 5,800 posts.

Sheet metal and tube bending firm Hydram Engineering, in Chilton, near Ferryhill, County Durham, was a successful bidder, using the cash to create more than 60 jobs and invest in machinery.

Precision engineering firm Darchem, in Stillington, near Darlington, received £1m in an earlier round to help fund an £8m 75,000sq ft nuclear factory, which bosses hope will double turnover.

Business Minister Michael Fallon, who visited the plant, told The Northern Echo firms must take advantage of RGF support.

The former MP for Darlington said: “Teesside and the wider North-East has done very well out of RGF.

“Some £164m has gone to Teesside and the Government is investing £310m across the whole region.

“It is a lever that can support firms and I urge any company wanting to invest in equipment and jobs to see how the RGF can help.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was given a tour of Nissan’s Sunderland plant in March to see how the Japanese firm used £9.3m RGF cash to start work on its new Note hatchback.

He echoed Mr Fallon’s call.

He added: “This is a helping hand to create thousands of jobs, and I’ve seen first-hand at Nissan how the fund is supporting businesses working hard to fuel our recovery.”

The deadline for bids is noon on Tuesday, 30 September.

North-East companies that have benefited from past RGF cash include industrial trainer maker Tinsley Special Products, which has bases in Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, and Peterlee east Durham.

It aims to create more than 100 jobs after winning £1.9m and £3.5m in separate rounds.

Chemical firm Fine Industries, in Seal Sands, near Billingham, is increasing its workforce with RGF support and will expand its plant to raise work on crop protection and pharmaceutical products.

Power cable JDR Cables, in Hartlepool, says it’s making the North-East base a real focus for its operations after two RGF wins.

The firm previously sent more than 200km of cables to the £1.9bn 175-turbine London Array development.

Cleveland Potash, in Boulby, east Cleveland, was awarded £4.9m to support a £38m project to mine and process the fertiliser mineral polyhalite.

The project will create 125 indirect jobs and 265 indirect posts by installing underground equipment and surface facilities to crush and screen the material.

However, a number of North-East companies have missed out on RGF backing, most notably Durham Tees Valley Airport.

The Government previously turned down a £4.65m bid from airport bosses to create a business zone for aircraft recycling, firefighter training and freight services, which they hoped would offset loss-making passenger operations.