North East businesses are hitting back at the rise of online shopping and the spread of homogenised high streets by launching a new showcase for their products and services as part of a buy local drive.
The DL Business Expo event, to be held at The Northern Echo Arena, in Darlington, will promote firms – large and small – as part of an ambitious drive to boost the regional economy.
The Buy Local campaign was launched by Darlington Business Club several years ago and has since gone from strength to strength with backing from hundreds of companies.
The fifth annual DL Business Expo promises to be the biggest yet when it opens its doors on April 14.
Such is the popularity of the show that more than half of the exhibition stands sold within a few hours of the event going online.
Colin Fyfe, chief executive of Darlington Building Society, which is sponsoring the event, said: “In an increasingly homogenized world, towns that preserve their unique businesses and distinctive character enjoy an important economic advantage.
“Local businesses help build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centres, offering unrivalled customer service and contributing to local causes.”
Darlington Building Society has been at the heart of the local community for 160 years, and Mr Fyfe added: “We are proud to be playing our part in helping businesses to thrive in our community.”
Compared to High Street multiples, local businesses plough more money back into the local economy. Research carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business, 63p stayed in the local economy.
Jayson Gurney, chairman of Darlington Business Club, urged companies to sign up and showcase their products and services, adding: “The DL Darlington Business Expo is the largest showcase of businesses based in the Darlington and district area.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Darlington Mowden Park RFC, owners of the Northern Echo Arena, to provide a fantastic local venue for the occasion.
“We’ve pulled out all the stops for this year’s DL Expo seminar roster and are pleased to announce Google UK will be delivering 3 #DigitalGarage presentations.”
Vanessa Wood, centre manager of Business Central in Darlington, which is also sponsoring the event, said: “We are proud to support the DL Expo and to help showcase Darlington’s many ingenious businesses.”
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, who visited the event last year, said: “We have some great businesses in the town and we need local residents to take every opportunity to buy local produce and use local suppliers. To buy local means supporting our businesses, jobs and Darlington’s economy.”
The expo will feature a host of locally based firms, from hotels to engineering companies, all showcasing their products and services. Visitors are invited to attend the free exhibition, to meet the buyers and to see the range of products and services on offer across the region.