2016 was a pivotal year for Invest North East England (INEE).
As you’d expect, the EU Referendum was a key consideration for everyone working in inward investment. The North East is the only UK region with a positive balance of trade (we export more than we import), so the potential of Brexit to disrupt activity was large.
Regardless, we punched far above our weight given the relatively small size of the region’s population and business base and this success looks set to continue well into the future.
Take financial, professional and business services, which had a spectacular year. Thanks to ongoing investment, thousands of jobs are being created.
ResQ will have 1,200 employees at its Seaham operation, while Convergys is currently recruiting a 600 strong workforce for its new base in central Newcastle. Sitel and Accenture are creating 700 jobs between them in North Tyneside and Atom Bank is successfully challenging the banking world by launching mobile phone-based banking services from its Durham HQ.
The area’s amazing talent, relatively low cost base, and reputation of outstandingly loyal staff is making the North East an increasingly attractive place for companies to locate. That’s why Sir Richard Branson, who headquartered Virgin Bank in Newcastle, said that ‘a company full of Geordies is unbeatable’.
The growing strength of the financial services sector is helped by the North East being the fastest growing tech hub outside London.
The digital capabilities available here underpin the success of financial services as well as our other key sectors such as advanced manufacturing, life sciences and energy. We are talking to many IT/tech companies who are looking to leave behind an increasingly over-heating London and South East because of the strength of the North East’s offer.
Nissan’s announcement that it is to manufacture the new Qashqai and X-Trail at Sunderland is a massive vote of confidence in the North East.
I attended an event last week at the Stadium of Light at which Nissan presented its procurement plans to component supply companies from all over the world. This will be the largest sourcing programme in UK automotive history, worth billions of pounds, something described by Nissan and the UK government as a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ for suppliers. I am convinced that new Tier 1 suppliers will locate in the North East on the back of this procurement exercise and we are working hard with partners to ensure this happens.
2017 promises to be a fascinating, rewarding and no doubt challenging year. Last year we made sure we were ready to capitalise on all the opportunities coming our way through the creation of the small but perfectly formed INEE team, with Rebecca and David joining me in selling the North East as a fantastic place to invest.
We launched a brand new website, www.investnortheastengland.co.uk, showcasing the North East to the world, and with our partners, we helped attract thousands of jobs in a variety of sectors in locations across the region.
As we move ahead, INEE will be proactively targeting companies in London to convince them that there is life north of Watford, and in fact, that the North is a profitable business base while offering a fantastic quality of life. The North East is a great place to do business and has so much to offer UK and international businesses alike.
Invest North East England