A MULTI-millionaire philanthropist has been appointed to the high-level panel setting out the region’s economic future.
Jonathan Ruffer will replace the Bishop of Durham on the commission chaired by former transport Secretary Lord Adonis.
Mr Ruffer set up an investment firm now overseeing £13bn globally, but is better known in the North East for his £15m donation used to save the Zurbaran paintings at Auckland Castle, and is chair of the Auckland Castle Trust.
His appointment comes as the Bishop prepares for his new role as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
The former fund manager, who grew up in North Yorkshire, will join fellow review team members Will Hutton, chair of the Big Innovation Centre; Heidi Mottram, CEO Northumbrian Water and member of the CBI’s national infrastructure panel; Lord Don Curry, leading businessman and chair of NFU Mutual; and Bridget Rosewell, economist and chair of Volterra Partners.
The team was asked by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership to set out how best to use the region’s limited resources to grow its economy.
Mr Ruffer said: “I’m honoured to have been asked to be part of the key strategic review for what I believe is a wonderful part of the world.
“The review is exactly what is needed to set out a direction for long-term growth and regeneration in the North East. I promise to refuse if I am offered an archbishopric.”
Paul Woolston, chair of the partnership, said: “We warmly welcome Jonathan Ruffer to the review team.
The Bishop of Durham has made a terrific contribution to the process. We knew he would be a hard act to follow, but Jonathan is a superb replacement.
“He has gained an enviable national and international reputation in the investment world for his expertise and his principled approach, and he has a deep commitment to the regeneration of the North East.
“He will be a valuable asset to the team, challenging and looking for big ideas, as momentum continues to grow towards publication of the economic review report later this year.”
He was backed by Lord Adonis who said: “Jonathan’s astute financial expertise and regional understanding will be of great value to the team as we move towards the final stages of the review later in Spring.”
Lord Adonis’s team will look at all aspects of the economy, including ways to improve transport connections, bringing in more international investment and support for small and medium sized firms.