The great and good of the business community turned out in force for the North East Chamber of Commerce’s County Durham Annual General Meeting.
Chief executive James Ramsbotham welcomed around 90 attendees and provided an overview of the progress made throughout the year 2013, and thanked member businesses for their continued support of NECC.
County Committee chairman, Brian Manning, outlined the progress made by firms across the county in 2013 and talked about the growing positivity in the business community.
He said: “We are starting to hear businesses talk about the good things that are happening in the North East and it is great to hear how so many of the businesses attending Committee meetings are doing well.
“There is a general feeling that a corner has been turned and optimism is returning.”
He introduced speaker Richard Evans, museum director for Beamish, who spoke about the growth of the museum over the last decade and its independence from public sector funding.
“Last year Beamish attracted 589,000 visitors, with more than half of them coming to us from outside the North East,” he said.
“Last year we generated a surplus of £650,000 and all of that goes back into the museum.”
“Heritage and culture play a strong role in bringing people together and generating conversations.
“We are a trustworthy brand and we want to have individual relationships with our customers and developments in technology have allowed us to do this.
“We have spent a lot of money figuring out how we can have those conversations with our customers and it is working well for us.”
Richard explained how Beamish Museum was focusing on developing accommodation so people could stay in exhibits, working with the community to help save and preserve local buildings of historical interest and maintaining the museum’s self-sufficiency that has enabled it to move away from a reliance on public sector funding and ensured it has been insulated from Government cuts across public bodies.
NECC chief executive, James Ramsbotham, said: “Our members are NECC’s owners and we only exist for our members who provide us with the information for our Quarterly Economic Surveys and tell us what we should be campaigning about.
“We hope our members will help us celebrate our 200th anniversary next year because it’s not a only a celebration of the past successes, it is also a chance to look to the future and outline the aims and ambitions of what lies ahead for our members, businesses and the North East Chamber of Commerce.”