“People do business with people; and here we’re all about building trusted relationships and
supportive networks.”

Simon Hanson
Federation of Small Businesses

Being County Durham born-and-bred, I daresay I’m biased. But there’s something here that I’ve not found anywhere else, and that’s a sense of partnership, a real spirit across all businesses of working together.

There’s none of that arrogance you sometimes get, you know, that idea of ‘I win, great, you lose, tough’ here it’s more ‘we can all win together’. There’s a willingness to open up contact books and make introductions to help you achieve what you want to achieve. Businesses and people all working together. There’s a pride in helping the next generation flourish, and Durham thrives on people doing business with people. 

The FSB represents 4,000 businesses, and we organise many events to bring businesses together. Networking here isn’t the usual sharp-elbowed, shiny-suited handing out of business cards though; it’s about bringing people together in a really collaborative way. 

It’s not just the businesses here that are ambitious and keen to move forward either. From the University and colleges partnering with businesses to embed the right skills, to the council breaking down barriers to create opportunities, the whole area seems confident in what it wants to do and knows its own strengths. Look at Aykley Heads: it’s a massive project to transform the region, develop FinTech and create opportunity – not many places are forward-looking and innovative enough to do that. 

What that says is ‘If you want to give it a go, give it a go here’. And why wouldn’t you? 

The old industries had a sense of community, and that’s evolved as new industries have come along; as ever though, if your business invests in a community up here, the community will invest in your business.  

Business Durham is the economic development organisation for the county delivering the environment for business and economic growth and bespoke support including:

Connections to professional, legal and financial advice, including access to funding and incentives

£20 million Finance Durham fund to support the growth of businesses located in the county

Access to centres of excellence, networks and cluster groups

Help to find the right property from science labs and clean rooms to office space and industrial units

Research, economic intelligence and ideas to support your business case


“This is more than just a local authority;
these are people with a real passion for
what they’re involved with.”

Geoff Hunton
Development Director, Merchant Anglo

Geoff Hunton    Development Director, Merchant Anglo

Geoff Hunton
Development Director, Merchant Anglo

With now over £100 million investment and supporting over 1,350 jobs at the facility, and many thousands in the supply chain (over 80% being within a 50 mile radius), Hitachi Rail Europe is a huge deal for the whole North-East, not just Durham. But they wouldn’t have chosen Newton Aycliffe without the support we got from the county council and Business Durham. 

Approachability is key, especially senior people. They involve businesses in the decision-making process, and if there’s a problem they’ll solve it with the right people at the right level. I’ve been in construction all my life, and the USP here is the people: they have the right approach.

There were challenges of course – getting rail lines there, moving bridges and so on – but the positivity is incredible. It was a real partnership, an attitude of ‘what can we do about it?’.

They could see the bigger picture, and what you see at Merchant Park is the result of private and public sectors working seamlessly together.