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REGIONAL ECONOMIC STRATEGY FOR THE NORTH EAST UNVEILED

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One NorthEast chief executive Alan Clarke unveiled the north east's ambitious blueprint for economic success - with...
One NorthEast chief executive Alan Clarke unveiled the north east's ambitious blueprint for economic success - with a rallying call to the region to help deliver its aims.

The new Regional Economic Strategy (RES) 'Leading the way' is the culmination of the most extensive study ever undertaken by One NorthEast to assess the region's economic health, providing the evidence base for the North East to substantially raise its productivity over the next decade.

The core aim of the RES is to grow regional economic productivity from 80% to 90% of the national average.

Its key targets are:

--To create between 61,000 and 73,000 new jobs by 2016

--To create between 18,500 and 22,000 new businesses in the next decade

--Tackling long term unemployment to increase economic output

--Raising the economic contribution every worker makes to boost regional GVA

An action plan is being finalised with partners to pinpoint how the region can deliver the activity needed to meet the challenges set within the RES - with a strong emphasis on improving business performance, up skilling people and providing the high quality places for companies and people to invest, work and live in.

Mr Clarke said: 'The new RES is ambitious but at the same time realistic - as it has to be if the North East is to raise its game and compete with the best performing regions of the UK.

'The RES sets out a vision that we believe is both exciting and achievable and I call upon all of our public, private, voluntary and community sector partners to help put its aims into practice.'

The new RES will be launched at 4.30pm at Beamish Hall, County Durham, with One NorthEast Chairman Margaret Fay also telling an audience of 300 people of the regional development agency's achievements over the past year.

The RES has taken extensive soundings from dozens of organisations across the region to build the most solid evidence base possible to give authority to its aims and recommendations.

A key part of One NorthEast's remit is to produce and update the RES every three years - to give clear economic direction to the region and reflect its rapidly changing business climate.

Mr Clarke said: 'The region has made substantial progress over the past ten years in increasing the number of jobs and new businesses, but there is still a long way to go as we trail many other UK regions in economic productivity.

'The RES has identified three areas to tackle this challenge with the maximum return for our investment - business, people and place, all requiring strong leadership.

'One NorthEast produces the RES but it is the region's document - without its full backing we cannot hope to achieve its aims.'

The RES has crucially received extensive regional endorsement, including the North East Assembly, the Association of North East Councils, the Learning and Skills Council, the Northern Business Forum, North East Health Forum, Voluntary Organisations Network North East, Culture North East and SustaINE.

Much of the future growth of the region is centred around the two city regions of Tyne and Wear and Tees Valley, building on key sectors such as process industries.

For business to grow, the RES identifies potential key actions including developing the new Energy Excellence Management programme to help manufacturers cut energy bills, securing major international research and development work into wind turbine development at NaREC in Blyth and merging the Cenamps and CPI centres of excellence to secure major contracts in molecular engineering.

The RES seeks to raise the contribution of people to the regional economy by supporting the extension of work-based learning opportunities and skills, developing a 14-19 forum with regional schools and working with partners to remove barriers to employment.

The RES highlights the need for high quality places for people to live, work, invest in and visit.

Schemes earmarked include a fully integrated programme for the development of Newcastle Science City, delivering the Durham City Vision Masterplan and the roll out of the Desti.ne tourism e-business platform.

Mrs Fay said: 'By 2016, we envisage an economic powerhouse located in Tyne and Wear and Tees Valley, complemented by a thriving rural economy and supported by an improved transport and ICT infrastructure.'

Chey Garland, Chief Executive of Garlands Call Centres, will be the keynote speaker at the launch event. She heads one of Tees Valley's largest private employers with nearly 3,000 employees and a turnover of almost£50m.

In 2005, she won the Veuve Clicquot Award for Business Woman of the Year.

The event will also feature a panel discussion on how the region can best tackle the challenges it faces.

The panel comprises Jo Boaden, North East Assembly Chief Executive, Darren Race, Director of Education and Training at Filtronic in Newton Aycliffe, Lucy Bird, Director of Marketing and Development at The Sage Gateshead as well as Alan Clarke and Pat Ritchie, One NorthEast's Director of Strategy and Development.

The RES document is available in a variety of languages and formats by contacting the One NorthEast marketing team on 0191 229 6720 or e-mail marketing@onenortheast.co.uk.

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