Column by Chamber chief exec, James Ramsbotham as published in The Northern Echo.
It was a tremendous privilege for our President’s Club guests to hear Legal and General, MD, Nigel Wilson, give his views on our region and his company’s approach to investment.
This former son of Newton Aycliffe spoke with great passion about how lucky he felt to have had the benefit of a free education, which took him from County Durham to a sponsored degree at MIT in Boston and highly successful career.
Under his leadership Legal and General has made the decision to use its funds to support regeneration in Britain’s towns and cities.
One of these projects, receiving £400m investment, is the Helix which is being developed by Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council on the former Newcastle Brewery site.
This investment will be fundamental to the further success of the overall project which is already home to some very successful entrepreneurial science businesses.
We all know what a great job our Universities do in producing outstanding graduates and it was great to hear his praise for these young people who are so much part of our future.He said that, as a region, we need to do all we can to ensure these great graduates stay here.In his view, there are enthused businesses in the region and entrepreneurial students pouring out of our Universities.
There was a note of disappointment, however, as he believes that we could do more to take advantage of the 200 starts ups which were created here last year.He urged us to do what we can to ensure these young ventures are able to scale-up to achieve even greater things.
His view is that a lack of capital and insufficient capability to support greater growth were probably the reasons why the North East was not enjoying even more success.
It was also interesting to hear his views on devolution for ‘North of Tyne’, following on from Tees Valley.He reported on how important and advantageous this model of Government had proved to be in London in relation to transport in particular.However, he said it was imperative there was a collaborative Mayor appointed in the North of Tyne area in order to be most effective.
With regard to Brexit, Nigel Wilson said his company was not a Remainer or a Brexiteer but rather a ‘doer’ who was getting on with developing the business.
He is a certainly a famous son who is doing us all proud.