A North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group has launched to provide business resilience and get the region ready for recovery throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
Here Helen Golightly, chief executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), explains what it is and what it aims to do.
The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group is a partnership between the North East LEP, business organisations represented through the CBI and both of the Combined Authorities in the region. While we already work together around the economy, now it’s crucial that we show that collaborative strategic leadership so that everyone knows we’re doing everything we can to make a difference.
Our first priority has been to put together a five-point plan. We need to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and also look to the future so we are primed for an upturn. In a nutshell, all our activity hinges around supporting the local economy, building business resilience and getting the region ready for recovery.
Ultimately our longer-term aim is to return the North East to pre-COVID-19 GDP and employment levels.
The five-point plan, in its simplest form, looks at how we can:
- Keep businesses operational and stop them from shedding jobs
- Maintain people in employment and economic activity
- Mobilise partners in the region to solve new problems and challenges
- Prepare for the longer-term with a plan for recovery in the future
- Co-ordinate the economic voice and influence of the region to best effect
Working in this way helps avoid duplication of activity. Many different organisations have mobilised very quickly and it’s critical that help is deployed most efficiently to achieve the greatest impact. Our job is therefore to help coordinate all that.
One strong consistent voice
Another part of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group’s work relates to establishing one strong voice, maintaining this and ensuring this is heard by Government, using the mechanisms we have in place to keep the North East in clear view.
It is also important to have one consistent message and hub for regional businesses so they know where to turn for appropriate information. At the moment we are advocating people use the North East Growth Hub which is an online resource, but there are also people available at the end of the phone, should that be needed.
On the Growth Hub we’ve tried to simplify the information out there and signpost clearly to the latest Government measures designed to keep organisations and the self-employed open for business.
A coordinated response with industry
One further area of work I’m keen for everyone to know about is the matching service we are implementing here in the region, connecting people, skills and goods with those in need. Every day we are approached by people offering help on a local and regional level, showing just how generous and community-oriented we are in the North East. It’s quite complex to do this as you’d imagine so this is taking a bit of time.
In addition to this, Government has put out a number of ‘Challenges’. This means that they are asking us to work with them to solve a problem together. As one example, there is a call out right now for manufacturers who can help with the production of ventilators. We are working hard to identify regional businesses who may be able to help with these. If you’d like to find out more, there is an up to date list on the North East Growth Hub Call Directory.
Ultimately the North East is resilient, is rising to the challenge and everything we are doing right now is with a firm view to a successful future.
To stay up to date with progress, follow @northeastlep on Twitter or visit the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group page.