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North East Local Enterprise Partnership 2020 AGM 

Businesses will be given an update on plans to build a stronger North East post-pandemic economy at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) 2020 Annual General Meeting.

Taking place online on Tuesday 24 November, the event will include a welcome from the recently-appointed Chair of the North East LEP, Lucy Winskell.

Lucy Winskell said: “As 2020 began, we were making good progress towards our goal of creating 100,000 more and better jobs here in the North East by 2024.

“However, we know that COVID-19 has hit businesses and communities in our region hard. That’s why we acted quickly to create the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group with the CBI and the North of Tyne and North East combined authorities, which has recently published its proposal for counteracting this damage and creating a thriving post-pandemic economy.”

The AGM will also include updates on business growth, innovation, skills, transport connectivity, investment and infrastructure in the region, and how businesses are preparing for next year’s EU Exit.

Speakers at the event include Lucy Winskell, Chair of the North East LEP; Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP; and Paul Woods, Chief Finance Officer at the North East LEP.

Lucy Winskell added: “It’s been a tough year but there is still positive news to share as we look to the future of our region and the opportunities we have in sectors including digital, low carbon, life sciences and pharma.”

The 2020 North East LEP AGM will take place on Tuesday 24 November from 9.30am to 10.45am. Book your place here.

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In conversation: Lucy Winskell OBE and Helen Golightly

The North East LEP recently welcomed Lucy Winskell as its new Chair. Here Lucy and Helen Golightly, its chief executive, talk about the role and their aspirations for the future.

Managing a senior team transition can be challenging at any point but COVID-19 has changed everything. Is this a good time for a new Chair to join the North East LEP?

Lucy: It’s a great time to join the North East LEP. There has been a huge amount of brilliant work carried out by Helen, the Board and the Executive team and it’s not for a new Chair to put a red pen through that. The Strategic Economic Plan was created and refreshed using the most up to date evidence and remains fit for purpose. The same applies to the work being carried out by the COVID-19 Economic Response Group.

The Board already offers an incredible wealth and breadth of experience and includes dynamic local authority leaders, innovative business people and strong representation from the VCSE sector. I see my role as being a fresh pair of eyes, bringing my experience and new perspective to bear to support the work already underway until we can get back to where we were as an economy pre-COVID-19.

Helen: Lucy’s arrival comes at an excellent time during a period of transition. She is very welcome as a new critical friend who can help us engage with and influence Government on its policies, as well as respond as needed to the changes yet to come.

How will the handover period work and what do you see as initial priorities?

Lucy: We’re well underway with this as we utilised the time between my appointment being approved and official start date to bring me fully up to speed and maximise my time with the outgoing Chair, Andrew Hodgson.

I’ve worked alongside Andrew for years so it’s been incredibly straight forward, although admittedly there is still lots to do, especially where it comes to understanding and acting on Government priorities.

Helen: Our initial focus centres on the team getting to know Lucy and vice versa and ensuring she feels settled with the Board.  It is crucial alongside this to continue with our partnership working as this remains the path to success moving forward. Finally, it’s important we closely monitor changes to the economy so we can respond in an appropriate and timely way.

How will the Executive team and Board work together as the LEP navigates this next period of transition?

Lucy: To echo what Helen said, this next period will continue to be about partnership and collaboration. We’re keen that all parties, from the Board and Executive team through to our partners, are all aligned behind the Strategic Economic Plan and work of the COVID-19 Economic Response Group – in this way we can make a bigger difference in a faster way.

Helen: How we work together comes down to our values as they underpin everything we do. These revolve around the key pillars of making a difference, being better together, thinking bigger and doing the right thing – a great way to do business whoever you are and whatever you do.

What are your ambitions for the region going forward?

Lucy: I’m very keen to see the North East maximising all the opportunities available to us and that requires a good understanding of Government – and Government understanding the needs and priorities of the North East. It would be fantastic for the region to lead the levelling up agenda rather than this being a top down approach. I also want to see us making strong progress against the targets set out in the Strategic Economic Plan.

Ultimately this current crisis will leave scars for some but we want people to know that we are doing everything we can to lead this region back to health through a plan that is both realistic but optimistic.

Helen: The region is clearly still experiencing a difficult period but we are very resilient. The North East has a significant role to play in UK plc so we will be lobbying for the resources we need to unlock potential and make a difference. We are poised to further transform our region and need Government to partner with us to unlock the potential for our residents and businesses.  Our video sums this up.

What will success look like for you both in twelve months’ time?

Lucy: In a year from now, I’d personally like to see evidence that the economic response plan is working by having a positive impact on the North East, that our targets and measures are being met and that Government understands the region’s specific strengths and challenges. I’d also like to see continued success in terms of the North East LEP securing appropriate funding and spending this in the right way.

Helen: I echo everything Lucy said, but would like to add that I’d like to also see a sense of confidence, aspiration and belief from the person on the street, be that a resident, business person or student. It matters that everyone knows we are working hard on their behalf.

Finally, what one thing would you like the business community to hear right now?

Lucy: Getting through the challenges posed by the current climate requires us to work collaboratively and we want to gather as many views as possible to inform future activity.

While the North East LEP can’t provide all the solutions, what we can do is connect, facilitate and leverage resources/offer support. It’s incumbent on us to communicate what we are doing and for the business community to communicate its needs. We’re looking for people to roll their sleeves up and help in a constructive way.

Helen: We have a very clear message. This is that the North East LEP is genuinely trying to understand the impact of COVID-19 on communities and champion everyone affected with the Government and other relevant parties. We’re here for you.

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership publishes its Annual Review 2019-2020

Tribute paid to its ‘exceptional’ team and the resilience of the North East’s business community.

The Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Helen Golightly, has paid tribute to the LEP’s ‘exceptional’ team and spoken about how the region’s inbuilt resilience and strong community will see it through the coronavirus crisis, in its Annual Review, published today.

Referencing the annual government review of all Local Enterprise Partnerships, which resulted in the North East LEP being marked exceptional for its delivery, Golightly said: “This demonstrates our strong leadership and solid implementation to ensure that our strategic projects are delivered to make the maximum impact to boost economic development and create more and better jobs.”

The Annual Review 2019-2020 sets out the progress that has been made against the six targets in the Strategic Economic Plan, in relation to the number, quality and type of employment opportunities available, the proportion of the workforce that is in employment and economically active, and productivity.

The two headline targets are to increase the number of jobs between 2014-2024 by 100,000 and for 70% of these jobs to be ‘better jobs’.

While COVID-19 has since made these targets more difficult to achieve, by December 2019 total employment had increased by 57,000. Employment in ‘better jobs’ had increased by 70,400.

Other key achievements in the last twelve months have included the North East Growth Hub becoming a critical resource for North East businesses, offering support on the EU Exit and how to best mitigate the impact of coronavirus. The launch of a second Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot has also taken place in the North East LEP region, this time focusing on primary schools.

The government announced in March 2020 that the North East will be at the centre of investment in innovation, while a highlight within the North East LEP’s transport programme has been the region collectively securing £198m from the Transforming Cities Fund to invest in key sustainable transport projects.

Speaking about the challenges currently being faced by businesses, North East LEP Chief Executive Helen Golightly said: “These may be truly uncertain and turbulent times but rest assured, we continue to support businesses and communities.

“This region is not frightened of a challenge and I am confident that our inbuilt resilience and strong community identity will carry us through to the recovery when we will do everything we possibly can to ensure our regional economy is back to pre-COVID-19 levels – and stronger again.”

Click here to read the North East LEP’s Annual Review 2019-2020.

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North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland, comments on this week’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics.

“The statistics once again show a relatively stable picture for the North East including Tees Valley, although the region has recorded a slight drop in the number of people in employment.

“While this figure is 2,000 lower compared with the previous quarter, it is still 8,000 higher than the same time last year.

“Looking at unemployment, we can see that there are 1,000 fewer people who are unemployed in the region – again, a slight decrease compared with the previous quarter.

“However, the number of people who economically inactive – that is people aged 16 to 64 who are not working and who are not looking for work – has risen by 4,000 this quarter.

“When we compare the North East region with elsewhere in the UK, we see a similar pattern across the wider North, with Yorkshire and Humber also experiencing a decrease in the number of people in employment and the North West employment rate falling this quarter.

“While the UK overall may be seeing a rise in employment numbers, it’s important that the Government recognises the picture here in the North and puts plans in place to mitigate the uncertainty we’re currently seeing in the UK economy, which is likely to be having an impact on investment and jobs here in the North East.

“The team here at the North East LEP will be continuing to work with partners in the region, as well as Government, to create more and better jobs for our region and strengthen our regional economy through the implementation of the North East Strategic Economic Plan.”

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North East LEP Annual Review 2018-19

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published its annual report, detailing its activities during 2018-2019. Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP, reflects on what’s been achieved for the North East during the past year.

The last year has been a positive one for the North East, despite the current uncertainty around Brexit and how this will impact businesses here in the region. As you’ll see in our annual report, we have continued to make good progress in our drive to create more and better jobs for the region, with more than 71,600 new jobs already added to the regional economy since 2014 – a significant stride towards our ultimate aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

Our annual report gives you an overview of our five programmes of activity from within our Strategic Economic Plan. It demonstrates the positive progress made in each area and how, by working closely with our partners across the region, we’re working towards fulfilling our long term vision for the North East economy. It also details achievements and milestones in relation to the three funds that we manage – Local Growth Fund, Enterprise Zones and the North East Investment Fund.

One of our key events this year was the launch of the updated Strategic Economic Plan for the North East. More than 400 people joined us on the day to hear how the Plan has been refreshed and updated to respond to our ever-changing economic climate. The Plan sets the strategic direction for our work and I was very happy to see so many of our partners there on the day to learn more about the Plan and how we can all act as advocates for the region.

Many North East businesses, business support organisations and entrepreneurs are also actively involved in our programmes, from Scaleup North East, which provides bespoke support to ambitious businesses which are ready to achieve the next level of growth, to the Enterprise Adviser network, which sees business leaders working together with school leadership teams to strengthen careers guidance for young people.

Representatives from the business, education and voluntary sectors also sit on our North East Brexit Group, alongside the local authorities and trade unions. The importance of forming a group like this was clear, and it’s allowed us to have a collective regional voice and influence the national debate from a North East perspective.

Looking ahead, an important piece of work for us now is to develop the North East Local Industrial Strategy (LIS). As ever, this can’t be done in isolation and we will be developing the North East LIS in close partnership with stakeholders in the region and with government. The LIS dovetails with the North East Strategic Economic Plan and focuses on opportunities to strengthen North East productivity and standards of living.

Putting together our annual report always provides a chance to reflect on what’s been achieved and any challenges we’ve faced. It’s a chance to demonstrate the breadth of our activities, which cover areas including innovation, skills and business growth, and which pinpoint sectors where we know the North East has the opportunity to demonstrate strong growth: energy, advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, and digital.

There’s space for every part of our business community to be involved in our work and help us to work together to achieve our aim of creating an inclusive, sustainable and strong North East economy. You can read our annual report here and I hope you will join us in working towards an even stronger North East.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP

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North East LEP CEO named North East Champion in awards ceremony

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive Officer of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), has been named as ‘North East Champion’ in the Sunshine Fund’s Glass Slipper Awards, which recognise remarkable women in the North East. Helen received the award in recognition of the key role she plays in acting as an ambassador for the region, raising its profile nationally and internationally, and bringing partners together to drive forward the North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).

Director of the Sunshine Fund, Siobhan Sargeant, said: “Helen is a truly deserving winner of the accolade ‘North East Champion’, having done so much to promote the region. Her tireless work to support the growth in our local economy, increase the quality of life for residents in our region and boost job prospects is inspiring. As a small local charity, we are proud to champion good work in our region and we feel Helen embodies that. We were honoured to present her with the award and it was lovely to meet her and other LEP members on the day.”

Helen Golightly said: “It’s a great honour to receive an award alongside women who do truly remarkable things for the region. As a team here at the North East LEP we work closely with partners across the North East to bring benefits to the North East and we’ll continue to champion the region as a great place to live, learn, invest and do business.”

Helen’s professional, fair and informed approach to everything she does effortlessly gains the respect of her team and partners while her meticulous attention to detail and complete commitment to the North East LEP’s agenda undoubtedly drive forward the plan to increase economic growth in the region. Since Helen has taken up the role of Chief Executive Officer at the North East LEP, partnership relationships, commitment and buy-in to the SEP across the region have increased significantly, ensuring the region has a collective voice nationally.

Helen’s work in leading the team at the North East LEP and working in close partnership with the business and education sectors in the region is having a transformational impact on economy of the North East, helping the LEP to achieve its aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs in the North East.