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Business Must Play Part in Bringing New Firms to North East


The skills and experience of North East businesses must be harnessed if the region is to fulfill its potential as a location for inward investment.

North East Shadow MPC Delivers Majority Verdict to Hold Interest Rates for AugustThe skills and experience of North East businesses must be harnessed if the region is to fulfill its potential as a location for inward investment.
That is the key recommendation of a report, published today, by the North East Chamber of Commerce into regional strengths in attracting foreign direct investment.

The report, entitled "Bringing Business to the Table: NECC's Inward Investment Report", was produced in partnership with legal firm Eversheds and a steering group of NECC members keen to make the case for a robust support infrastructure to present the region as open for business.

It also details how the private sector must be more integrated with current inward investment activity and that opportunities exist to repatriate business to the North East as a result of increasing costs in Far East and Eastern European markets.

NECC Policy Advisor, Helen Hayes, said: "All the elements that make the North East a great place to work, visit and do business are already here, what is required is a co-ordinated approach to promote them, to let others outside the region know what we in the North East have been aware of for years – that the region is open for business.

"This opportunity to harness private sector involvement across the spectrum of inward investment activities needs to be maximised to ensure that the real opportunity offered by inward investment is fully realised within the North East. This requires provision to be made by public sector organisations for more private sector involvement and more businesses to come to the table and play their part."

Managing Director, David Osborne, of shower manufacturer, Roman, said: "In 2006 Roman began importing a price entry shower enclosure range, to compete with the large influx of Chinese imports within our market at this time. This is the first and only range which we have manufactured overseas. From 2010 onwards it became obvious that as a manufacturer we would benefit from repatriation.

"There were a number of factors that influenced the decision, including; the increased import costs, teamed with regular currency fluctuations, we wanted to secure better control of product development and quality, the opportunity for better customer service and product support, and as a manufacturer we would rather hold common parts in great volume as opposed to simply stocking the finished products. The repatriation of the range was a great success and the products now all carry the made in Britain marque on the packaging, which is increasingly becoming a key selling benefit."

The North East has fared relatively well in landing large-scale inward investment. The most high profile example, Nissan, arrived in 1986 and more recently Hitachi to Newton Aycliffe. These large companies provide a significant economic boost through expansion, supply chain and potential to bring additional work to the region.

Recommendations on how business can add credibility to the region's inward investment offer:

1. Use of NECC's 50 Great Reasons resource. Provides a simple resource which outlines the benefits of locating in the North East, the private sector can promote the North East as a location for investment through their networks.
2. Mapping current delivery structure and priorities to enable private sector to feed in leads. If structures are mapped with different entry points for private sector a pipeline could be developed to supplement UKTI activity.
3. Identify key players from key sectors to match LEP focus. Identify people and firms from key sectors to enable private sector to play greater role.
4. Board of private sector network linked to LEPs, to include professional services and sector champions. A board would enable the private sector to be involved at a strategic level to help articulate the offer for key sectors.

Eversheds Partner, Charles Reynard, chaired the NECC steering group. He said: "As the only law firm in the North East with our own international network of offices, we are very pleased to have been involved in this informative report, which highlights the opportunities and the role that the private sector can play in stimulating inward investment to the region."

The North East as a region performs relatively well in terms of attracting FDI with FDI created jobs increasing by 152% from 2010/11 to 2011/12, and projects increasing 22% over the same period. For 2012/13, the North Eastern LEP (NELEP) landed 26 successful projects which created 1,693 new jobs and safeguarded 510 existing jobs. For Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), 10 projects were successfully landed which created 440 new jobs and safeguarded 179 other roles.