Sarah Slaven has been appointed as the permanent Managing Director of Business Durham, Durham County Council’s business support service, following a recruitment process.

Sarah previously held the post of Operations Director at Business Durham before taking on the position of Interim Managing Director in early 2020.

Since then, Sarah has supported the council’s response to Covid and the unprecedented impact it has had on businesses across the county. This has included overseeing the council’s additional £5 million investment through the Durham Business Recovery Grant, which has helped 345 businesses as well as safeguarding more than 300 jobs.

In addition to the Covid response, Sarah has played a key role in the continued support to business provided by the council through engaging with businesses and facilitating programmes such as the Durham Business Opportunities Programme, Digital Drive County Durham, the County Durham Growth Fund, Finance Durham and Durham City Incubator.

Amy Harhoff, Corporate Director for Regeneration, Economy and Growth said: “I am delighted to have appointed Sarah to this role, her dedication and experienced is valued by the directorate and the council.

“As a council, we are committed to providing effective support to businesses, including our extensive business support, property and finance levers to support growth. Our Business Durham team will also play a key role in supporting the council in driving forward our continued approach to supporting business and economy.

“As we look ahead, there is a great deal to be optimistic about in County Durham – from a multi-billion-pound investment programme for commercial, leisure, homes and regeneration alongside our quest to be crowned UK City of Culture 2025.

“We are committed to working with business and communities driving our economy forward and redefining our ambition through our new Inclusive Economic Strategy. Attracting investment, creating and safeguarding jobs are key to a thriving and inclusive economy.

“With such ambitious plans lined up for 2022, we’re delighted to welcome Sarah in a permanent role within the Business Durham team.”

Sarah said: “I am delighted to be appointed to the role and extremely proud of the work Business Durham has done to help businesses navigate these unprecedented times and to support business growth, create jobs and attract inward investment to County Durham.

“I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity to continue leading this fantastic work in a permanent role. As well as our great range of existing business support programmes, I look forward to introducing new initiatives to help businesses meet the changing demands they face and take advantage of new opportunities.

“It’s exciting to see the continued development of our commercial property portfolio, creating new spaces for businesses to grow. This year, we expect to start on the £50 million NETPark Phase 3 development and see the completion of units at Station Place in Newton Aycliffe.”