Last week’s Mipim UK property show at Olympia, London, could well turn out to be a pivotal moment in regional politics.
Local authorities worked together, not just between the seven which form the North East Combined Authority (NECA), but with other public sector interests such as the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and a strong representation of the private sector too.
Altogether more than 20 public and private sector interests pulled together to deliver a first-class stand in the London exhibition, the first to be held in the UK.
And it had to be good to compete with the heavyweights of regional marketing such as the Scottish Cities Alliance, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Luton and Hammersmith and Fulham councils. Be it Euston Regeneration, Marketing Derby or the Thames Valley Towns, the challenge was for NECA to tell a persuasive story about the benefits of doing business in the North East.
This it did in good measure, with NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s give-away USB memory stick covering in admirable style the Top 10 Reasons to choose the North East.
What are those reasons? Even if we are familiar with them it’s worth reminding ourselves that they are our strong regional economy – the only one in the UK with a positive trade balance, our skilled and loyal workforce, our connectivity, industries, operating costs, inward investment successes and above all, perhaps, our culture and passion.
In other words the North East is a great place in which to live and do business.
Tim Evans, office head for Knight Frank, said the region’s contingent and stand demonstrated this well.
He said: “The stand stood out and was prominent in the exhibition reflecting the key messages and passion of our region. Importantly it illustrated how the public and private sector in our region work seamlessly as one for the good of the North East.
“I spoke to global investors looking at our region together with a number of key developers looking for opportunities in the North East.
“Investors and developers combined are a powerful engine for creating and delivering jobs.”
Tony Hordon, regional director of DTZ, agreed: “The stand was the perfect showcase of what our region stands for - working together.
“It was a real barometer of how the public and private sector work together - a collaborative approach which the region will continue to grow from.”
Bill Lynn, director of ES Group, also supported the region’s MIPIM efforts.
“It was good to see that we had a presence and that both public and private sector were working together for the good of the North East,” he said.
The public sector was also supportive of the process. Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson, economic development and regeneration lead at the combined authority, said: “Mipim, as the UK’s largest ever property conference, gave us a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to an important international market why investing and locating businesses in the North East is one of the best decisions investors could make.
“Working well together, the region’s private and public sectors made the most of the chance to meet potential investors and highlight the many reasons the region is an outstanding business destination.
“Our export success, thriving companies, partnership approach, strengths in key sectors such as automotive, offshore and digital technology and our superb workforce combine to make the North East a strong contender for ambitious global and national companies.”
We are, of course, a region of proven business success with companies such as Nissan, Arriva, Sage, Vertu, Bellway, Virgin Money, Gestamp, Tallent, Shepherd Offshore, British Engines, Komatsu, Procter & Gamble– with a raft of extremely talented companies both large and small helping to maintain a diverse private-sector industrial base.
Hitachi Rail Europe is quickly coming through on the rails providing the best, and current, evidence that the region is a great place in which to be business.
Beyond that there are the opportunities for further inward investment as outlined in the successful NECA organised conference Re-shoring and the Regions.
Attended by more than 50 guests the conference, hosted by BBC Home Editor Mark Easton, heard all about the ‘evolution of Enterprise Footprint optimisation’, as reviewed in a JLL report.
This is the re-thinking of companies about the benefits of moving out of high-cost locations to regions such as the North East where the financial numbers are far more sensible and the return to the UK of companies that sought a cheap cost base by relocating overseas.
Paul Woolston, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and host of the conference, added: “The NELEP was delighted to be able to lead and stimulate the re-shoring debate through the contributions of its knowledgeable and experienced speakers.”