One North East held its final annual review meeting today to discuss the challenges that the region will face after the closure of the regional development agency next year.
Over the past 12 years, One North East has provided invaluable investment in the region, leading the North East through many new and innovative changes. At the meeting, One North east Executive Alan Clarke reflected on the impact One North East has had on the region.
He commented: “One North East’s investment strategy to maximise the impact of our annual budget spend was to invest in a small number of key projects that had the capacity to transform regional economic growth.
“The £125m Finance for Business North East Fund, the transformation of North East tourism isn’t a £4 billion a year industry through the ‘Passionate people, Passionate places’ campaign and the investment of £42 million into the Teesside economy after the partial mothballing of the Redcar steelworks are prime examples of this approach.”
Paul Callaghan, chairman of One North East spoke of the challenges the region will now face, and expressed his hope that the region would be well placed to meet them thanks to the strong foundations put down by the RDA.
He added: “There is genuinely much to be confident about but this positivity has to be set within a context of realism as the region faces up to its biggest economic challenges in a generation.
“New and renewable energy, process industries, the digital sector, advanced manufacturing and the low carbon agenda all offer us enormous opportunities, and global players like Nissan are continuing to invest substantially in the North East.
“But the days of the North East having around a quarter of a billion pounds to exclusively spend on developing its regional economy are gone.”
Progress has already been made with the Local Enterprise Partnership and the potential of the Regional Growth Fund, but momentum must continue after One North East closes its doors for the final time on the 31 March 2012.
Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that the economic growth gap between the North East and the UK stabilised from 1999 up to the beginning of the recession in 2008, closing a previously marked difference.
Mr Clarke also praised the public and private sector partners who have helped to transform the regions economic landscape, as well as the staff at One North East.
He added: “I would like to thank each and every member of staff at One North east on whose hard work our reputation was built and from which the regional economy greatly benefited.”