The North East Has Plenty to Be Positive About—Here's Why

Posted on the 27 March 2019

The North East Has Plenty to Be Positive About—Here's Why

It’s safe to say that there has been plenty of turbulence in the UK recently, largely brought about by the word that has taken control and shaped news agendas since 2016.

This uncertainty hasn’t helped breed confidence across the business spectrum, at a time when positivity seems hard to come by.

According to the latest indicator by the CBI, private-sector activity is at its lowest since 2013, with the business lobby group expecting activity to weaken further.

While national growth forecasts and predictions by commentators may appear bleak and not make for particularly good reading, there is plenty to be positive about in the North East.

For decades, the region has been plagued by and widely perceived as an economic blackspot - albeit from those looking from the outside in and not those from the region who are involved in private sector business.

But what these people, who don’t actually know the region, fail to realise is that we are home to many thriving and fast-growing businesses that aren’t letting the ‘scaremongering’ impact on their strategies and planned investments. 

A recent study by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, in collaboration with Public Knowledge, revealed that while economic confidence was broadly down among the North East business community, entrepreneurs were still confident about their own enterprises.

The 2019 Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey showed that 54% of entrepreneurs are more confident about their businesses than they were 12 months ago, with 46% more optimistic than three months ago.

However, the two main barriers to growth were identified as finding quality staff (31%) and economic uncertainty (21%). Added to this, 58% of respondents were less confident in the economy now than they were a year ago.

From the findings, it is clear that, among Entrepreneurs’ Forum members, there is plenty to still be positive about and this optimism should be used as an indicator that things aren’t as bad as they are portrayed in the mainstream media.

The fact is, the region was ranked number one in the UK for business growth by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with organisations contributing £3.1bn to the regional economy - representing a 48.9% increase since 2010.

There was also a recent article featuring three firms from the North East that were named among the fastest-growing companies in Europe, according to the Financial Times. It was pleasing to see Entrepreneurs’ Forum member Hedgehog Lab among the trio, which joined END Clothing and Cussins as the region’s representatives in the FT1000 – a list that ranks European firms by their growth between 2014 and 2017.

The Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 is another strong indicator and metric that should be championed too, as these lists and indices show the calibre of companies and strong brands that have a presence in the North East.

Regardless of how the economic and political uncertainty plays out, agile entrepreneurs will be the ones that make the most of the opportunities they’re presented with. Entrepreneurial businesses are the key drivers for the economy as they are the companies that are contributing to the exchequer and, even more crucially, creating the jobs required for the future prosperity of the North East.

The Business Tracker research reinforces the indomitable spirit of entrepreneurs and highlights the significant role that owner-managed businesses will have to play in securing economic prosperity for the UK.

This crucial issue requires as much attention, if not more, than the overall playing down of the economy that we have all become accustomed to.