Brexit and the uncertainty of its impact remains the dominant issue for regional business, with talks between the UK government and EU leaders about to enter their most crucial phase.
Brexit will bring disruption, but any disruption creates opportunities for new winners as well as risks to established businesses.
The North East LEP is determined to help companies capture the new opportunities as well as protect themselves from the inevitable changes they will face.
It is launching a comprehensive package of support to help businesses be as prepared as best they can for Brexit through access to expertise, resources and initiatives.
Worryingly, we know many companies are not readying themselves for Britain leaving the EU.
This represents a risk not just to their viability but to the North East economy as a whole.
The North East LEP is taking action now to help firms prepare, working with partners expert in guiding companies through the process of change.
Later this month we are launching ‘Supply Chain North East’. Its aims are simple – to help build more resilience into regional supply chains and the regional economy as a whole.
Businesses will be linked to sector experts able to help them better prepare for life outside the European Union.
The North East LEP has appointed two Growth Hub Connectors to go into firms, get under their skin and assess their Brexit readiness.
Ken Arnold and Karl McCracken both have experience of running companies and will use their professional knowledge to connect firms to the sector experts best placed to help.
RTC North, the North East Automotive Alliance, NEPIC and Generator are delivering the programme, offering a wealth of industry experience and a proven track record of transforming business growth and productivity.
This could be by diversifying income through different revenue opportunities domestically and internationally or by generating greater productivity through digitisation.
Resilience is key, and ‘Supply Chain North East’ has the knowledge and expertise to get companies ready and able to make the most of the change Brexit will bring.
Quite often supply chain companies are reliant on few customers for the vast majority of their work which doesn’t make good business sense.
Our team will be working with firms to examine their core competencies and look at ways to build greater resilience into their business – which could be as simple as continuing to do what they are doing but with new customers.
Sectors such as rail, the nuclear industry and offshore wind present new and exciting opportunities for businesses looking to diversify into different markets.Complementing ‘Supply Chain North East’ will be a new Brexit Preparation Fund being finalised now with NBSL, via their North East Business Support Fund, which will support companies to buy in professional expertise to look at exposure to risk and build greater resilience.
We are also unveiling a Brexit Tool Kit through the North East Growth Hub – the region’s online business support platform – bringing together in one place all the available business advice and support to prepare firms for leaving the EU.
The North East Growth Hub www.northeastgrowthhub.co.uk will be the access point for all the LEP’s latest package of Brexit support.