Tesco's investment in the regeneration of one of the most underdeveloped areas in the north-east of England has created 340 jobs in a new store, and lifted 296 jobless people out of the dole queue, a conference has been told. The multiple's partnership with the local authority, shopworkers' union Usdaw and other agencies in Dragonville, Durham, came under the spotlight at the Skills for Real Futures Conference organised by Tesco last month and held at Durham New College. Tesco chairman John Gardiner addressed the conference which was also attended by CBI assistant regional director Angus Hind. The Dragonville Partnership was launched by Tesco in September 2000 as part of its initiative to tackle economic and social factors behind long-term unemployment. In Dragonville this included financing training for the unemployed and providing outreach trainers, and providing free transport to the training centres. Tesco guarantees a job to each person who completes the training. Tesco's UK regional project manager Martin Venning said the multiple plans to invest £200m in 12 such schemes across the UK, with a pledge to employ as many jobless people as possible "We are looking at how we can use our financial power for investment in the community, improving the economic prospects of an area," he said. Tesco also wanted to encourage other businesses to take up similar schemes. "It could have a significant affect on the UK economy," Venning said. {{PEOPLE MOVES }}

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