AN organisation that champions businesses in the North-East has launched a new campaign calling for more investment in the region in 2019.

The North East England Chamber of Commerce is demanding more support for exporters, better infrastructure and increased flexibility for employers to use the apprenticeship levy to fill skills gaps over the next 12 months.

The body is using its 2019 Stronger North East campaign to urge the Government to progress a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund that expressly addresses the needs of the North East, to ensure the region is as competitive as possible.

It also wants to see interventions across the North East to stimulate and support town centres, more funding and innovative approaches to improve the quality and diversity of housing stock, and investment across the rail network in the North-East to enable better local and national connections, as well as improved access to ports and airports to further international trade ambitions.


John McCabe, Chamber president said: “We continue to be passionate in our desire to build a Stronger North East.

"This will be an economy that builds on its existing assets to become more productive, more resilient and more inclusive.

"This Stronger North East campaign sets out the changes we need to see to achieve our ambitions.”

The demands of the campaign were based on the views of its 3,000-plus members of all sizes from entrepreneurs to major employers such as Nissan and Greggs.

Chris Smith, from Chamber partner Thirteen, said: “We believe that having an accessible and diverse housing offer across the North-East is an essential part of creating the right environment for the region to grow.

"Investing in housing development is an important driver for growth, it stimulates the economy, creates and sustains jobs, and generates confidence in our communities.

"Quality is a major factor, we need new homes that match the aspirations of people at whatever stage they are in their lives, regardless of whether they want to buy or rent.”

Devolution is also highlighted in the campaign as the Chamber says its members need funding programmes in Tees Valley to be aligned with the needs of employers, and the incoming North of Tyne Mayor to work with business to grow the region's economy.


Peter Wilkinson, Northern regional manager at Woodland Group, a global logistic, freight forwarding & supply chain with a base in Seaham, said: "As a global logistics business with offices and significant client base in the North-East, we rely heavily on the local infrastructure to not only connect manufacturers with consumers, but also to provide an effective and positive working environment.

"As digital and physical connectivity will continue to become more and more important in everyday life and key to successful business locally and globally, we’re committed to investing into the latest innovative and digital solutions that will enable us to continue to facilitate personalised solutions to help local businesses grow globally.”

John Sayers, from Stanley-based Hodgson Sayers,said: “The North East of England business sector is bold, innovative and fast-paced, employing many tens of thousands of people from our local communities.

"We power the regional economy, our companies export to every corner of the globe and we set standards that others seek to emulate."

Trevor Cossins, from Bowburn-based manufacturer PC Henderson, added: “Exporting is vital to our business success – international sales currently account for over 70 per cent of our total company sales and we see plenty more opportunities to increase these figures, with expansion of Germany and Central Europe marketplaces as well as Asia.

"We are very proud to be part of the North East’s longstanding exporting tradition – there is huge potential here and with more international trade support from the Government we could do even better.”

Last week, it was revealed that Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham had been awarded a CBE in the New Year honours list, after being at the head of the organisation and transforming the region’s business community for 12 years.