Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the LEP Board, welcomed the Northern Powerhouse Minister to the North East in his recent column for the Journal newspaper.
It was good to welcome Jake Berry, the new Northern Powerhouse Minister, to the North East this week.
Taking the time to meet with regional business leaders just days into his new role and learn about our world class subsea sector on a visit to North Tyneside, confirmed his commitment to the Northern Powerhouse programme.
As they say, actions speak louder than words and blocking out his diary to press the flesh in the North East and Cumbria resonated with businesses.
The minister was clear in his meeting with the North East LEP and its partners at The Sage that on his appointment, the Prime Minister Theresa May tasked him with reinvigorating the Northern Powerhouse.
He said she reaffirmed the Government’s support for the Northern Powerhouse which is viewed in Westminster as the key economic policy tool to rebalance the North-South divide.
Liverpool-born and a North West constituency MP, it was clear that the minister gets the North and has its best interests at heart.
His commitment is to help narrow the productivity gap which has blighted the North and stopped it contributing its full economic worth to the national economy.
No small task. But a cause with which he will find many allies across our region.
We took the time to emphasise to him the central role the North East plays in this economic rebalancing.
Our refreshed Strategic Economic Plan underpins all the economic activity in the region to help it reach its target of 100,000 new jobs in the decade to 2024.
The minister was encouraged to learn that we are ahead of schedule, creating 58,500 new jobs to date – with 60% of these posts in the ‘better jobs’ category of technical, managerial and professional roles.
A visit to Newcastle University’s new National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering in Wallsend emphasised to the minister in the clearest possible way the region’s commitment to driving new economic growth through focussing on key business sectors.
The LEP told the minister of the importance of subsea, offshore and energy technologies, advanced manufacturing and engineering especially in automotive and medicines, life sciences, digital and financial, professional and business services to North East economic growth.
These areas of world class excellence are helping generate the wealth, new and skilled jobs and productivity fuelling record levels of employment and cutting the numbers of people out of work.
The fundamental role the North East has to play in the success of the economic rebalancing of the North of England economy was recognised in the recent Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review.
The evidence confirmed the importance of the North East and its growing economy in driving overall growth in the North of England.
Far from being on the periphery, our region is front and centre to the progress of the Northern Powerhouse.