THE region has been visited by much more than snow in the past week. In addition to the Arctic temperatures, we have had visits from Lord Adonis and the Rt Hon Greg Clark.
Both have been examining the strengths and weaknesses of the region, and yet, pleasingly, both recognised the region is different to other parts of the country and should be treated as such.
High on the agenda of discussions was the topic of access to finance, particularly for small and medium- sized businesses and owner/managed businesses. It is neither appropriate or fair to descend into an article criticising banks. In fact it should now be seen as a little cheap and inaccurate journalism to blame access to finance issues solely on the banks. The important message to get across is the North East has a thriving alternative finance provision in the shape of the Finance for Business North East Funds.
The seven funds run by six local fund managers has been operational for more than two years and provided support to hundreds of companies while creating or safeguarding thousands of jobs. Without wishing to tempt fate, it is likely that by the time the funds are fully invested in 2015, this will have been the most successful initiative of its kind in England.
At a time of bad news stories about cuts and high street retailers going into administration, it is very important that whenever possible we present recognise positive stories about the region. There is a growing recognition that there are many positive things about the North East which we have not been good about promoting in recent years.
As it will be vital to secure further investment post-2015 both to ensure further funding and maintain the excellent fund management infrastructure we have in the region.
The business community can help. On a practical level, if you want finance contact the fund managers within the Finance for Business North East Fund. The more people who use these funds the better the track record for investment.
It is important businesses engage with external visitors to the region. The point has been made several times that Government representatives want to hear real stories from real businesses, so let’s make sure we tell them.
:: By Neil Warwick, of Dickinson Dees