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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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