LIBRARIES are to be turned into business centres with a £45,000 grant to encourage local entrepreneurs.

A partnership of Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool and Darlington Borough Councils, as well as Teesside University, has secured the money as part of the Enterprising Libraries initiative.

Venues across the Tees Valley will be used as venues to provide information, coaching, advice, meeting spaces and IT support to residents eager to become self-employed.

The consortium is one of 10 projects nationally who have been given equal shares of £450,000 through the scheme, established by Arts Council England, the British Library and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The money will be used to support local economic growth, by turning libraries into spaces that can help start-up businesses, providing information, coaching, advice, meeting spaces and IT support.

It follows on from a model at the British Library in London, which runs a Business and Intellectual Property Centre, providing advice to small businesses.

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for joint working across the Tees Valley to help support the regeneration of the area by supporting individuals and new businesses with their start up.”

“Libraries are a powerful resource and these projects really demonstrate how innovative, and forward-thinking public libraries are in this day and age,” added Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, said: “Libraries are the ideal place for people to go and get support for their great ideas. They are now well placed to be the places that kickstart new business and school self-starters.”