The TeesSMEs alliance officially launched in March with an ambition to create 200 new jobs and help deliver Teesside’s economic renaissance. Alliance founder and Managing Director of Solomons Europe, Dominic Doig, tells the story behind it and why SMEs hold the key to fuelling economic growth and delivering social impact.

“I’m utterly convinced of the power of SMEs.

Individually we’re already small giants. But collectively we’re without question, giants.

Why do I say that? Alone, we have the speed and agility to deliver either directly, or for clients, on time and on budget. We bring fresh thinking and innovation to the projects and programmes we help deliver. And we bring passion – not just a passion for delivering an excellent service to clients, but also for the regions and communities in which we’re based and operate in.

We care, and on so many levels.

Together, we can, and do, yield huge power. As alliances and partnerships, you can multiply all the above by how ever many SMEs are involved. With several or even a couple working seamlessly together we pack a punch. We can offer a viable alternative to the big boys – or “Big Fish” as we often call them – and yet offer so much more.

These aren’t just bold words, and it isn’t just me proclaiming that SMEs hold the key to the UK’s post Covid economic recovery. Business leaders and thought leaders regularly express their belief that it’s SMEs that deliver high quality products and services, create real jobs, and create real wealth for local communities.

It’s this conviction and passion that led to the creation of TeesSMEs – an alliance of 10 Teesside-based businesses that can deliver all stages of a project life cycle; utterly committed to not just following, but striving to exceed, industry best practice and delivering social impact that makes a real difference to people’s career prospects and lives.

I was extremely proud when TeesSMEs was officially launched. All of us are at the top of our games, whether we’re in civil engineering, construction, project management, design, steelwork and so on. We’re all signed up to follow industry best practices, and when we see room for improvement or innovation, develop our own better ways of doing things. We have industry and professional accreditations coming out of our ears. We’re committed to creating long-term PAYE jobs, and growing our own through apprenticeships and other professional training routes.

And while we’re already successful in our own right as businesses, we’re hungry for more. Every alliance member is convinced of our collective power, both in terms of capability and capacity. We know we can deliver major projects on our doorsteps – the kind of projects that typically go to the big players.

And there’s an abundance of opportunities on our doorstep.

Freeport status for the vast Teesworks industrial development site, quickly followed by the announcement GE Renewables Energy has agreed to build a new multimillion-pound wind turbine blade factory there, was huge news for the region.

As I write this, Net Zero Teesside has been handed £52 million by the Government to accelerate the development of onshore and offshore low-carbon and hydrogen infrastructure at the Teesworks site.

A week doesn’t seem to go by without a new major energy or pharmaceutical project popping up.

There’s huge momentum and positivity around the region with significant economic gains to be had. It’s only right that SMEs based in the region have the chance to roll up their sleeves and get involved. And yet we have so much more than financial gain as our motivation. We want to make our mark. We want to create the long-term jobs with long-term prospects and empower communities to reach new heights.

Don’t get me wrong – we’re not asking for a handout, but rather a hand up. A liberation of procurement teams to think big, to think “can an SME or alliance of SMEs do this job?” rather than follow the tried and tested formula of bringing in a “Big Fish” to come in and swallow up the bulk or work, leaving crumbs for the “Little Fish” like us.

This fresh and bold approach has happened elsewhere and has been hugely successful. TeesSMEs took inspiration from the work of the then Commercial Director of the EDF Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, Ken Owen. He asked that very question of SMEs. He wanted them to get involved in delivering the huge multi-billion-pound development taking place in their backyard. He wanted them to create the local jobs, boost the prospects and careers of young people and leave a positive social and economic legacy for generations to come.

He went out and pushed to make it happen. With TeesSMEs we’ve grasped the nettle and done it ourselves too.

Because we can see no reason why this can’t be done in Teesside. There’s no reason why this can’t be done nationwide.

For me, the launch of TeesSMEs is a significant step, but just the start of a journey. Alliance members are already working together on projects. We’re starting to make progress as a collective, with our proposition, ambitions and inspirational story pricking the ears of would-be clients and developers in a world where there is increasing focus on social impact and long-term socioeconomic sustainability.

I know TeesSMEs will be a great success. At the end of the day, we’ll deliver, and we’ll do what we say, because we care.”

Take a look around this website to learn more about the alliance, its capability and pledges. 

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