The body charged with developing the North East economy is exploring how closer links with Scotland can bring jobs and prosperity to the region.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced plans to link up with the Scottish Government on schemes that would boost economic growth on both sides of the Border.
North East LEP chair Paul Woolston and the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing, have met to identify projects where the North East and Scotland can work together for mutual gain.
Mr Woolston said: “We are working on a number of key areas where we both have a common interest.
“Ultimately, we intend to approach the UK Government with our proposals which we believe will achieve economic growth for the North East and Scotland, and create growth for UK plc.
“This is about two key economic regions working together to improve the economic growth prospects for its people.”
Mr Woolston has been meeting regularly with Mr Ewing since becoming North East LEP chairman, as part of the organisation’s approach to developing relationships with neighbouring areas.
The enterprise partnership is keen to work with the right partners on initiatives that will pay dividends for the North East economy, whether they are physical neighbours such as Scotland, or trading partners further afield in Europe, the US or China.
Once a strategy for the first two areas for co-operation has been formulated, it is hoped the alliance approach can be extended to other sectors of mutual economic benefit for the region and Scotland.
Mr Woolston said: “We have significant common interests, but we have been realistic by looking at a small number of areas initially where we could potentially link-up in the future.
“This is absolutely consistent with our economic strategy around trading with partners, about smart specialisation and improving skills. As we operate as a LEP, everything should be like a golden thread linking into our strategic plan to create more and better jobs for the North East.”
Mr Ewing said: “We are excited about the work of the North East LEP and through our meetings we have discussed a number of possible areas where we could work together for the benefit of both the Scottish and North East economies.
“I look forward to continuing to build on these connections with partners and businesses in the North East.”