The North East England Chamber of Commerce has set out its campaign to build a Stronger North East in 2018, creating new jobs and attracting investment.
Chamber members have identified the political decisions they believe would have the biggest positive impact on economic growth in the next 12 months.
These include fair funding and further devolution to the North East, investment in key infrastructure and support to grow the region’s exports.
John McCabe, Chamber president, said: “We know the North East is a great place to do business, but it can also be so much better.
“Our businesses have the right assets, attitude and abilities to make a far bigger contribution to the national economy, but are all too often prevented from doing so – that’s why the Chamber is campaigning for a Stronger North East.”
The work will help create an influential region with the power to make decisions about its own future. It will also urge businesses and local authorities to work together to build a clear and consistent set of investment priorities, building on devolved powers.
Over the next 12 months the Chamber will continue to champion the region’s exporters; insisting on a positive trade deal with the EU and demanding much more support for new and existing exporters to grow its reputation as a global North East.
It wants businesses to be able to build upon the region’s unrivalled export track record and break into new international markets.
The Stronger North East campaign has a more connected region as its heart with the urgent need for major investment in the regional rail network on schemes such as the Newcastle to Northumberland line, as well as an increase in the North East’s energy generating capacity.
This campaign will focus on making the region more competitive, in particular ensuring public procurement creates more opportunities for North East businesses, and supporting local initiatives for regenerating town centres.
The Chamber will continue to urge the creation of more high quality apprenticeships in the region.
It wants migration that enables regional firms to compete for and retain global talent and all North East schools to provide careers guidance.
Mr McCabe added: “In 2017, we have championed the cause of North East businesses and achieved real change. This activity has taken place against a backdrop of political upheaval and economic uncertainty.
“The continued success of our members reflects not only their ability to make the most of the opportunities the North East offers, but also the resilience in dealing with the challenges we still face.
“The Chamber will campaign for the changes needed to support them.”