There is no doubt that we have turned a corner. The increase in values seen in London, brought about by the increase in cash from purchasers, is now spilling over into our regional cities.
While this is incredibly helpful it still remains fragile; to ensure a more stable future in the North East we need to encourage more demand.
The case for this is being built up in all sorts of quarters. A week ago it was David Smith, writing in the Sunday Times (February 2) who examined evidence collated by the economic think-tank IPPR on how to improve the performance of the regions.
During the years of recession, we have seen their share of the UK economic cake decline.
Our regions suffer from slow growth and high levels of economic inactivity. Smith calls for more of the three i’s – investment, innovation and infrastructure. This resonates with the plans across the North East being promoted by the North East LEP and the proposed Combined Authority, as well as the Tees Valley Unlimited LEP in the south of the region.
A key sector in our recovery will be the small to medium-size businesses (SMEs) and especially the micro businesses. At one time the North East was dominated by large employers then subsequently a large public sector. With jobs available it’s often a deterrent to people setting up in business themselves and now that the public sector is cutting back, it is crucial that we encourage the start-up of new businesses to achieve an increase in jobs.
The efforts of the North East Entrepreneurs’ Forum (of which I am a member and mentor) is signalled out as making a difference. It brings together 400 private businesses to encourage and mentor new entrepreneurs. Another force for good is the Entrepreneurs Bank, established by North East Access 4 Finance (of which I am also a member) for new and growing SMEs to access public sector and private sector funding.
Regions across the country are calling for a lot more investment in infrastructure, and none more so that the North East.
I do not object to the huge infrastructure investment already being made in London and the South East, as well as the proposed HS2.
Such investment must be made to ensure that London, as a global city, is not frustrated, because we in the North East will benefit indirectly. As a region, however, we need a much larger share of the infrastructure investment if the policy of growing UK plc is to be achieved.
The reputation of the North East as a place to do business has grown enormously thanks to the huge success of Nissan as an inward investor. We hope to see a similar effect from the investment of Hitachi in the region at Newton Aycliffe.
This brings me – once again! – to the subject of marketing the region. The North East LEP has proposed ‘North East International’ while others prefer ‘Greater Newcastle’. I’m sure there are other ideas too but the important thing is that public and private sectors get behind the region to encourage the growth of local businesses and the flow of inward investors.
:: Kevan Carrick is a partner at JKProperty Consultants LLP and policyspokesman for RICS North East