THE North-East could head a national recovery this year if its economic potential is realised, according to the region’s largest business membership organisation.

The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) has today published its manifesto for growth, in which it sets out four key areas that must be addressed if North-East businesses are to maximise the potential of the location, diverse business base, international transport gateways, natural resources and skills.

The document sets out the chamber’s lobbying priorities for the year, which are compiled after consultation with members.

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The manifesto calls for the Government to do more to strengthen the region by championing regional business to ensure UK plc receives the maximum benefit from the region’s companies; developing regional infrastructure to build on export success; supporting business by improving information on available finance; and removing barriers to encourage companies to bid for local public sector contracts.

Chamber president John Mowbray said: “With the UK focused on creating sustainable economic growth, we must work together as a region to maximise the potential the North-East offers.

“We have survived recession with record-breaking export figures, a rise in employment as well as increases in business optimism. We must build on this in 2013.

“Our message to the Government is no longer, ‘What can you do for us?’. Our new message is, ‘This is what we do for you’.

“We are a region standing on our own two feet, attracting inward investment, exporting across the world and developing our own homegrown businesses.

“To continue our progress, we require action by local, regional and national bodies, including Government. We also need businesses to be willing to work together in the interests of the region. NECC will strive throughout the year to encourage the partnership needed between these organisations to create the best possible conditions for growth in 2013.”

The chamber will: Champion North-East business to ensure the interests of the regional economy are prominent in national decision- making; Influence council budgets to help protect services important to businesses; Support and challenge Local Enterprise Partnerships in creating conditions for growth; Highlight the importance of vibrant town and city centres; Encourage greater support for the tourism industry.

The chamber will also encourage the development of infrastucture by helping demonstrate the demand for super-fast broadband; monitor the impact of energy market reform; promote the benefits of the Green Deal for businesses, and supporting the case for a carbon capture and storage pilot in Teesside.

Mr Mowbray said: “The manifesto priorities have come directly from the 4,000 businesses we represent, covering one third of the workforce, all localities in the region, all industrial sectors and all sizes of business.

“This manifesto, therefore, presents a uniquely important collective view from the North-East’s diverse private sector. We believe the success of these businesses in 2013 is vitally important for the North-East and the whole of the UK.”