Beginning a journey of business recovery
Reminding the Government of its Brexit responsibilities; celebrating Tees Valley’s Budget success; launching Great Reasons to do Business in the North East; and a regional firm’s central role in combating COVID-19
James Ramsbotham CBE
There’s a saying I like, which seems very apposite at present; ‘don’t be a busy fool’.
Without a strategic plan, it is all too easy to be a busy fool – not getting anywhere fast yet running apace.
Our Government is sadly lacking a clear direction of travel for true business recovery and the necessary leadership qualities to get us out of our current challenges.
We need them to set out a vision of the future to enable us to see what 2021 and beyond could look like so we can all work towards it, together.
They could start with the post-Brexit world.
It took four years to negotiate a deal and there is still very little detail about the huge benefits that were trumpeted as coming to our country.
Our international trade companies are experiencing some fundamental problems with moving goods between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU. We are working hard to provide as much support as possible to them, but the Government must remedy these problems causing real hardship and financial worries.
Among all of the current uncertainty on how our relationship with the EU will develop, one thing I am quite sure about, is how our fantastic businesses here in the North East will rise to the challenges.
Great businesses always find a way to tackle problems wherever they can.
Our region was centre stage when the recent Budget was announced, due to the major announcements for Tees Valley.
We were delighted the Chancellor supported many of our biggest business priorities, such as providing more business support measures and the relocation of Treasury jobs to our region.
The Government has listened to our campaigns with the announcement of a business rates holiday, an extension of the furlough scheme and support for specific sectors like hospitality, as well as the great news about the new economic campus in Darlington.
We welcome the news that our region will have a freeport and look forward to seeing the detail on how it will be delivered, to add genuine economic value.
However, other parts of the North East will be feeling like they missed out on investment and we urge the Government to reconsider the value and opportunities of a second freeport and other major projects in the north of our region.
The journey to recovery and genuinely closing the economic gaps in our country is going to be a long road and one on which we are very much at the start.
As we move slowly towards leaving the latest lockdown, we all need a good dose of optimism and as I am very much a glass half-full man, I’m delighted to be sharing news of a tremendous campaign we have launched.
Great Reasons to do Business in the North East will enable us to showcase the many assets we have here, from innovative companies creating new products to our tremendous quality of life.
Please get involved with this shop window for our many unique selling points and promote your own achievements by contacting the policy team.
We were fortunate to have two real-life examples of this with speeches by outstanding members who kindly shared their stories.
The first of these was Tombola’s Phil Cronin.
He has grown the Sunderland-based business from a handful of employees in the early 2000s to its current level of more than 700, with 150 of them appointed in the last 12 months alone.
Turnover has grown at a similar rate, currently standing at £120 million.
At our Tees Valley annual review, we also had the benefit of hearing the history behind the phenomenal growth of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies.
This Billingham company is developing a COVID-19 vaccine with US client Novavax, as well as working on a number of other significant product developments. Well done to their fantastic team.
In the Chamber, we pride ourselves on ensuring every member has opportunities to grow their business and the largest public sector funded project in the country, HS2, is encouraging North East companies to apply for tenders.
I wholeheartedly encourage you to look at its website, which has opportunities across sectors and business sizes.
On a final note, I urge you to enter our Chamber Awards to help us celebrate all the achievements of the past 12 months.
Overleaf, you will see the list of those companies who were given pride of place last year, which unfortunately we were not able to progress further, due to COVID-19.
It has been, and continues to be tough, but brighter days are definitely here, in all senses.