South Shields-based, Ford Aerospace has received a turbo boost after becoming the most recent beneficiary of Open North Foundation, receiving a £1,000 grant.

The grant will be used to help fund employee training for the SC21 programme, designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the aerospace and defense industry by raising the performance of its supply chains.

The family-ran business, will also benefit from the strategic partnership established between Open North Foundation and Northumbria University’s Newcastle Business School, having received two places on its Small Business Leadership Programme, which the company will utilise upon completion of SC21.

Operating in the civil and aerospace markets, Ford Aerospace offers advanced manufacturing techniques to a wide range of clients, including Leonardo Helicopters, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce.

A private sector-led, not-for profit company, established in summer 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Open North Foundation assists small firms in the North East that are considered to deliver long-term positive economic impact and create high quality jobs. Grants ranging from £1000 to £5000, that are donated by companies and individuals in the region, are available for those that meet stringent criteria, plus in-kind support such as marketing, HR and finance. Directors, ambassadors and supporters of the Foundation provide their time pro bono.

Chris Ford, managing director of Ford Aerospace, said: “Like the majority of companies in the North East, we have been affected by the pandemic and we anticipate that the civil markets in which we operate will not pick up fully until 2024.

“The recently announced news that the defense sector will receive an additional £16 billion, has come at a very welcome time and we are already starting to see the benefits of this, as our order books start to pick back up.

“As a family-ran business, I am very proud of the longevity of Ford Aerospace. We have operated for over 100 years and a large part of our success is down to our on-going commitment to the up-skilling of our team. The grant from Open North Foundation will go towards training our employees for the industry-leading SC21 programme. Continuing to demonstrate that our team is trained to the highest standard, will reaffirm our position as market leaders and secure the future of the business in the region.”

“The programme requires a huge level of time and dedication and as such we will wait until our team completes it before we take up two places on Northumbria University’s world-renowned, Newcastle Business School, Small Business Leadership Programme.”

Richard Swart, chair, Open North Foundation, said: “The unveiling of the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown is an encouraging sign for business. However, shutdowns and economic instability will continue to impact upon the region for a long time to come. It is now, more than ever, imperative that Open North Foundation continues to support local businesses, such as Ford Aerospace, and help to stabalise the regional economy.

“Ford Aerospace is a valued employer that is looking to the future, post Covid-19. When times are tough, up-skilling can lag to the wayside but is often one of the most important factors of future prosperity.

“I would like to encourage all businesses and individuals who are able to offer support, whether this be financial or in-kind, to reach out to Open North Foundation via our website