A £120M cash pot aimed at creating thousands of North-East jobs is primed to go live early next year after development bosses reached an important milestone.

The North-East Fund, known as JEREMIE, will offer a range of equity investments and loans to companies to drive expansion and job creation in the North-East Local Enterprise Partnership area.

Officials say it will provide support for more than 600 businesses, create around 3,500 jobs and deliver a legacy fund of up to £80m for further investment.

They added the final piece of the funding jigsaw has now been agreed in principle by the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) management committee, with a £60m loan representing a significant vote of confidence in the North-East.

The EIB contribution will form part of a £145m funding package supported by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and legacy returns from earlier successful funds operating in the region.

Although the fund will invest exclusively in the North-East Local Enterprise Partnership area, it will also sit alongside the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, operating in other enterprise partnership areas to drive growth.

Helen Golightly, executive director for the North-East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Our project team has been working continuously with the Treasury and the EIB to make this fund a reality.

“This hugely positive decision, though still subject to contract, is a real coup for the North-East and enables us to retain independence and local control over how these funds are used.”