Businesses looking at how best to beat the challenges they face
Business representatives gathered to discuss how to overcome the challenges faced by companies in the region.
Two round table discussions were hosted by the Scunthorpe Telegraph, in association with UK Steel Enterprise.
In the first, delegates from established firms and business support agencies put their views forward.
A major theme was identifying obstacles to business growth, how they can be overcome and how businesses could employ more people in them.
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One issue raised was the area's continued reliance on heavy industry.
John Williams, managing director of Victor Finance, said: "We have been too reliant on the steel industry.
"We have had various goes at replacing or adding to it but the town does need some variety in employment and how we go about that is the difficult question."
Andrew Hayes, managing director of Saxon Quality Foods, said some issues faced by businesses in the region were replicated across the country. But he said North Lincolnshire was in a good position to capitalise on resources and expertise in certain areas.
He said: "The biggest issues are banks not lending.
"In terms of this area, it is fantastic for certain things, like raw materials, as we are in a strong agricultural area, so that is a big tick. We have got a great pool of labour.
"One thing I didn't realise so much is in terms of ancillaries and engineering, this is a fantastic area for getting engineers."
A big concern was businesses being unsure of where to go for advice or how to access finance after the Business Link service closed last year.
One place companies in the region can turn to for funding is UK Steel Enterprise.
The organisation provides business finance, as well as low-interest loans to growing firms in regions such as North Lincolnshire.
Keith Williams, regional manager of UK Steel Enterprise, said: "The banks are still lending but they are taking far less risks because of the banking crisis.
"We look at businesses very carefully because if a business is not viable, we are going to lose our money.
"We have seen a great demand from people who can't get funding from the banks but we want to help more established businesses.
"It may be that they are unaware of our services, which is why we are talking to intermediaries like accountants so we can get the word out and help create jobs."
A lack of marketing and communications expertise and opportunities in the region was also put forward as a challenge for businesses.
Paul Edgar, managing director of GASS, said: "We have struggled to find decent quality marketing services in the region.
"It is something we all need, especially as many big employers around here have moved their marketing departments to the south.
"Quite a lot of the big food companies have done that and if it is true across all industries, we will have a brain drain of PR, marketing and design skills heading south, leaving us without vital skills."