North East firms are primed to spearhead a resurgent regional economy in 2014, according to the region’s largest business membership organisation.
The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) today publishes its 2014 Manifesto, in which it sets key lobbying priorities to empower business, stimulate growth, create jobs and help the North East become an international gateway for industry.
The chamber has pledged to continue championing the location as a place to live, work and invest and is calling on the Government to back regional business ambition to drive the economy forward.
The Manifesto aims to build on the lobbying successes of 2013 and will focus on a number of key priorities.
Under the heading of championing North East business, NECC has promised to address the regional impact of the Scottish independence referendum, support Local Enterprise Partnerships, encourage councils to support business growth despite budget reductions and build on its Great Reasons campaign while backing major North East events.
On infrastructure, it has pledged to push for delivery of A1 and A19 upgrades and an A1 dualling feasibility study. Also in the pipeline will be a campaign for international gateways at the region’s ports and airports and a call for excellent East Coast Main Line services under a new franchise.
NECC will also be calling for an industrial carbon capture and storage scheme in Tees Valley, support for unconventional gas in the North East and a fast rollout of rural broadband.
To support competitiveness, meanwhile, it will be encouraging the development of innovation centres of excellence, intensifying support for repatriation of manufacturing to the North East, calling for greater business involvement in inward investment and pushing for better careers advice.
Calls will likewise be made for more incentives for businesses to employ and train young people and, to remove remaining barriers, NECC will press for reform of business rates, fuel duty and Air Passenger Duty.
It will also campaign for North East firms to compete for public sector contracts and will encourage swiftness in the planning process.
NECC President Dave Laws said: “If 2013 was about repairing the foundations of our regional economy, then 2014 must be about using the progress we have made as a springboard for genuine economic growth. Successfully rejuvenating our economy requires local, regional and national organisations to pull together to recognise the potential within North East companies. Creating the conditions in which they thrive must be a top priority and NECC will campaign to ensure it remains at the forefront of national decision makers’ minds.”
He added that the manifesto came directly from NECC member businesses.
“Our businesses are leading the recovery,” he said.
“Our exporters, manufacturers, engineers, contact centres, bakers, designers, retailers – the diverse business base that has helped us roll with the punches – are the very ones who will drive forward growth, create jobs and make sure that 2014 is another great year for North East business.”