Economists and business leaders have urged firms to help spread the message that the North East has vast spaces ripe for development, making the region the perfect place to do business.
With investment from foreign firms setting up regional bases dropping away in recent years, the public and private sectors pulled together to stage North East Sites for Growth, a one-day event devised to encourage investment, showcase the region’s business successes and highlight the huge number of North East sites ready to be developed.
Hosted by UK Land Estates, the event formed part of the North East Commercial Property and Development Showcase 2014 where over 80 businesses exhibit – bringing together bring Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI), Developing Consensus, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), the Combined Local Authority (LA7), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and G9, the group of chartered surveyors comprising BNP Paribas Real Estate, DTZ, Gavin Black and Partners, GVA, Knight Frank, Lambert Smith Hampton, Sanderson Weatherall, Storeys Edward Symmons, Sykes Property Consultants and Naylors Chartered Surveyors.
The packed showcase attracted participants such as Merchant Place Developments and Hitachi Rail Europe, PD Ports, Sunderland City Council, Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, Developing Consensus, G9 and the North East LEP.
Three business leaders delivered speeches at the Team Valley showcase – James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, Dianne Sharp, regional director of the CBI, and Mauricio Armellini, chief economist at the North East LEP – highlighting growth in productivity in the North East, which is faster than any other UK region, lower living costs and the fact this is the only UK region with a positive trade balance.
James Ramsbotham said: “The North East is an asset that should be maximised for the benefit of UK plc. People hear how good the region is but the people who are influencing things are not giving the message out.”
Armellini told attendees: “Productivity in the North East LEP area is growing faster than anywhere else in the country and moving quickly to closing the gap with the rest of the country. Indeed GVA growth over the last three years is greater in the NE LEP area than anywhere else in the country.
“If added together we have what’s driving our growth – increased productivity. In other words, not only we are closing the gap and eliminating the slack – we are also generating new capacity. Our regional our economy is expanding not in quantitatively, that is more output, but also qualitatively which is being more productive.
“The North East is a great place to be an employer and an employee. Though nominal median wages are the lowest in the country, real wages are among the highest due to our much lower cost of living.”