I WORK for an organisation that not only welcomes, but seeks out every opportunity to talk up our glorious region, celebrate the things we’re good at and shout about the innovative work being carried out by our membership on a daily basis.
In the past, I have used this column to voice my irritation at the obsession of some media commentators with the negative figures attached to the North-East.
Granted, there are a few tables that we top in which we would rather see ourselves sitting smugly in the relegation zone, but some have gotten into the habit of talking our region down when, in reality, we have some of the most vibrant parts of the UK economy.
The most obvious example of this is the release of the monthly labour market figures.
Whatever growth we see in employment, the headlines usually focus on unemployment.
Our economy is growing and, arguably, is more sustainable and self-reliant than at any time in the past.
Our businesses are leading the way and NECC’s business surveys throughout the last year to 18 months point to continued growth.
Every quarter, the NECC produces a survey of business conditions, our Quarterly Economic Survey (QES).
This is the biggest business survey in the North-East and part of the UK’s largest business survey of more than 100,000 businesses.
This week, we launched the quarter three survey, for which we ask every business to take part enabling us to provide the most accurate reflection of regional business activity as possible.
Feedback is an indicator of what is happening in our economy.
This is validated by the fact that, historically, where our QES average score goes, the official economic output figure usually follows.
This is why policy makers from the Treasury to the Bank of England follow our survey.
The overall score for our key indicators in the last QES was the highest seen in more than 20 years of conducting the survey.
The world has changed immeasurably since 1995, when the survey started.
Yet almost in spite of the impact of the latest recession, businesses have returned to health and are beginning to fire up the cylinders of growth which means jobs and opportunities for our region.
Among other things it has been hugely encouraging to see respondents sending very positive news on their recruitment intentions.
Last quarter was higher than the one before and both considerably higher than this time last year.
So, I urge all businesses to take part in our QES.
It doesn’t take long and is vital for us to track our economic progress as we build on the recovery, turning positivity and optimism into growth, jobs and a vibrant North-East.
Mark Stephenson is NECC policy and research manager