Tees Talk: Uplifting business stories amid the crisis

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There are plenty of positives among the Covid-19 challenges. We asked local business leaders what has been the most uplifting Tees Valley business story they’ve heard during the coronavirus crisis. Here’s what they had to say…

Tony Parkinson, chief executive, Middlesbrough Council

“I’m immensely proud of the council’s response to the challenges presented by Covid-19. We have continued to deliver key services to our public and enabled an average of 1,300 staff to log on to systems remotely at any point in time so that we can deliver government interventions to assist the wider business community.
“Business Rate adjustments were completed within a week of the government announcement and by April 30 we had paid over £20.2m in grants of £10,000 or £25,000 to more than 1,700 businesses, which I know has been a lifeline for many.”

Bob Cuffe, chair, vice chair and non-executive director

“Mine is the quote from Frans Calje, CEO at PD Ports on a Tees Business Q&A last month – ‘This crisis came, and  it will go, and what you will remember is who stood by you.’

“From looking after colleagues, clients and partners, paying bills on time (or earlier), to keeping in touch with others through this, to supporting the NHS and other frontline workers, this is so true.
Being a leader in a crisis is exceptionally difficult – Teesside is blessed with brilliant business leaders, such as Frans.”

Emily Bentley, director, Bentley’s Coffee Shop

“My vote is for the amazing, selfless way that Bryan Holmes of Stockton firm iStation jumped on Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation’s iPads appeal for hospital coronavirus wards, enabling patients to have contact with their loved ones.
“When hearing of the need, Bryan used his contacts and expertise to purchase and set up the much-needed tech without any financial return. A heart-breaking need but one which has been a vital way for families to speak to their relatives in the wards for what has sometimes been the last time. I’ve been humbled by Bryan’s generosity.”

Paul Good, owner, Good Mortgage Solutions

“The biggest positive from the coronavirus crisis has been local businesses sticking together. A number of groups have been formed where advice from solicitors, accountants, insolvency and banking sectors have been made available for us to use for reference and guidelines.
“We are seeing more and more businesses coming together and looking out for each other. Teesside is staying positive.”

Martin Walker, director, Resolution Media and Publishing

“We shouldn’t be surprised by the togetherness of the Tees region’s business community. Once again they’re stepping up – working hard for their own interests, of course, but more importantly working hard to help others.
“There are various discussion groups, on and offline, and the overriding message is the same. Most people like to help other people, and we’re seeing lots of that right now.
“The generosity of businesses in helping charities has also been fantastic to see.
“For me personally, I’m lucky to be surrounded by great people with cool heads. My trusted business partner Dave Allan and our non-exec director Bob Cuffe have both been hugely supportive to me during this.
“We’re working together, finding new ways to do things, but their positivity and common sense approach has been reassuring when I’ve had, let’s say, one or two off days.”