Regional unity and strong partnerships were the main focus of David Laws’ inaugural President’s Club event.
The new President of the North East Chamber of Commerce reinforced his message from last week’s annual general meeting that the region would always appear fragmented to Whitehall decision makers if the public and private sector could not demonstrate shared ambitions for the region’s recovery.
Mr Laws, who is Chief Executive of Newcastle International Airport, said: “Unless we all sing from the same hymn sheet then we’re never going to be heard by the people who make the key decisions.
“We have a fantastic Chamber of Commerce and Local Enterprise Partnerships in the North East who are doing great jobs and we need to make sure we feed into these and together shout what we do well in the region and how we could be doing much more.”
He also urged all members of President’s Club to buy into the NECC 50 Greatest Reasons campaign, which outlines why the North East is the place to live, work and do business.
His views were backed by key speaker Andy Street, National Managing Director for John Lewis Partnership, who faced similar challenges as Chairman of the Birmingham LEP.
“Presenting a united voice for the region is key for this Government,” he said. “Any sign that there is fragmentation or that there is anything other than agreement across the board will not help your cause with the people in Whitehall.”
He also outlined how John Lewis has bounced back from a 40% drop in profits in the early stages of the recession to become a profitable business and also create one of the most successful online shopping experiences in the UK.
The event, which was held at Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground at Chester-le-Street, was sponsored by UKTI.