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Reigniting the passion
By James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce
REMEMBER when we were all passionate people living in a passionate place?
One of the real legacy projects of regional development agency One North East was the excellent regional image campaign, which seemed to receive buy-in from the entire region.
“Passionate People, Passionate Places” was a wonderful campaign and showcased what an amazing region the North East is to live, work and visit – we always knew it here in the region, but it was great that the message was being carried outside our boundaries.
Sadly the campaign was a casualty of the public sector cuts and when the RDAs days were numbered so was the campaign, or was it?
Momentum may have been lost when One North East closed, but there is no reason why the businesses, public bodies, education establishments and any Joe Public with a passion for the region can’t continue to carry that message.
We must continue to talk our region up here in the North East, nationally and internationally.
We have so much to shout about: the best balance of trade in exports in the country, a bourgeoning IT sector, thriving engineering companies, world leading new and renewable energy research and development, coast and countryside to rival anywhere in the UK and diverse cities that bring in millions to the regional economy.
Our businesses are selling goods all over the world, our universities and schools are performing brilliantly and even our football teams seem to be on the up.
Last week David Miliband addressed nearly 200 of the region’s leading business brains at the NECC President’s Club lunch.
A passionate regional advocate himself, the former Foreign Secretary praised the spirit of unity evident in the region, but said more must be done.
He explained how schoolchildren are aware of our industrial heritage in the shipyards and at the coalface, but many aren’t aware of what we do now.
But change does not happen overnight. I am pleased that NECC is part of a public/private sector partnership that is continuing the effort to promote the region as a whole.
Schools, colleges and universities are working together with businesses now and that can only be beneficial to the regional economy.
But most satisfying of all is perhaps how we have refused to let the recession overcome us as a region. Our employment levels are heading up and our unemployment down – that is one statistic that I will never tire of repeating.
With a raft of Regional Growth Fund investment coming our way and the high quality businesses to make the most of the opportunity, there is much to remain passionate about.