Increased devolution of economic powers to the North East are called for in 2015, the North East Chamber of Commerce has proclaimed.
The regional business group – which officially marks its 200th anniversary today, January 5 – has launched its 2015 manifesto, calling it the “most ambitious” to date.
The document sets key lobbying priorities to champion the region domestically and overseas, link the worlds of education and business and become an international gateway for industry.
Among the key campaigning points the chamber cites the reform of the Barnett Formula, EU reform, support for ‘northshoring’ and infrastructure investment.
The document also notes future apprenticeship funding plans, better coordination of LEPs and support for industrial carbon capture and storage.
Dave Laws, NECC president, said: “2015 will be the year of North East business.
“We are a constant and passionate evangelist for our members and the ground breaking work they are doing in our region, but throughout our 200th anniversary, NECC200, we will be celebrating every business success from the smallest one man band to the largest multinational.
“When our founders first came together in the very room we will be launching this manifesto, they aimed for “the attainment of objects the exertions of individuals may be less adequate to accomplish”.
“For the two centuries since then, NECC has enabled businesses in our region to exercise the collective influence that goes well beyond that which they could wield by themselves. We have achieved an enormous amount of change for the benefit of our region’s economy.
“The North East is not just a fantastic region in which to live, work and do business. It is a crucial part of the UK economy and vital to the country’s future success. We are the only region with a consistently positive balance of trade and home to a series of vital established and emerging industry clusters. We possess the expertise and resources needed for long-term energy security and the capacity to absorb growth that is lacking in many other areas.
“This Manifesto sets out how the assets of the North East can be maximised for the benefit of the region and the country.”
The NECC’s manifesto is the result of consultation with 4,000 businesses – through surveys, face-to-face meetings and its network of committees, area meetings and policy groups.
Mr Laws added: “Over our 200 years, the North East Chamber of Commerce has made a tremendous difference to business conditions across the North East and we intend for that to continue.
“With every business we recruit into membership the voice of regional business grows stronger and I would urge all firms in the North East to sign-up for membership – as the merchants who met at the Guild Hall on January 5, 1815 realised, collectively we are a much stronger force for change than individually.”