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North-East economy heading for upturn in 2014, says NECC
A RESURGENT North-East economy is closing the gap with the rest of the UK and is primed for an upturn in 2014, the region’s biggest membership organisation said at the launch of its annual manifesto.
Outlining its key campaigns for the year ahead, which includes support for Tees Valley to become a hotbed for green industry, the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) predicts 2014 will be a year of growth.
The bold comments follow last month’s statement by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that the economic recovery was gaining pace.
"The North-East is on the up, we are going places and our public and private sectors are demonstrating that we are stronger together and a united force can get things done," said Dave Laws, NECC president, who revealed that next week’s Quarterly Economic Survey - a bellwether of the regional economy – will contain more good news.
The upbeat message comes as the region continues to be blighted by some of the UK’s highest unemployment rates, and public spending cuts threaten more jobs and services.
But Mr Laws said impressive export and growth figures showed the North-East was capable of punching above its weight on the national stage.
"If 2013 was about repairing the foundations of our regional economy, then 2014 must be about using the progress we have made as a springboard for genuine economic growth," he said.
"Successfully rejuvenating our economy requires local, regional and national organisations to pull together to recognise the potential within North-East companies.
"Creating the conditions in which they thrive must be a top priority and NECC will campaign to ensure it remains at the forefront of national decision makers' minds."
He added: "We're closing the gap on the rest of the UK and we're doing it with our businesses leading the charge.
"Our exporters, manufacturers, engineers, contact centres, bakers, designers, retailers - the diverse business base that has helped us roll with the punches are the very ones who will drive forward growth, create jobs and make sure that 2014 is another great year for North-East business."
Following consultation with the NECC’s 4,000 members, the manifesto represents the changes Government and local decision-makers can make to help unlock the region’s potential.
Among the things it calls for are:
*An industrial carbon capture and storage scheme in Tees Valley.
*Councils to support business growth despite budget reductions.
*A1 and A19 upgrades, and a feasibility study on dualling the A1.
*An excellent East Coast Main Line service under a new franchise.
*Repatriation of manufacturing to the North-East and greater business involvement in inward investment.
*More incentives for businesses to employ and train young people.
*Business rates reform and extend exemptions to empty property rates.
*Fuel duty and Air Passenger Duty reform.
*Local firms to compete for public sector contracts.
*Swift planning process giving the North-East a competitive advantage for investment.
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