UNITED we stand, divided we fall.
That is the message for 2012 from North East Chamber of Commerce chairman John Mowbray.
Northumbrian Water’s director of corporate affairs says the region needs to work together as never before after the loss of regional development agency One NorthEast – and particularly its Passionate People, Passionate Places promotional campaign.
“Reputation is really important, not just for Sunderland, but the whole North East,” he told the Echo.
“There are some exciting stories around and we have got some really good news to share,” said Mr Mowbray, who will retire from Northumbrian Water in August.
“Nissan is a good example – the cars are going out as fast as they can produce them – but how we promote ourselves nationally and internationally is really important, especially when we are looking for investment to come into the region.
“The North East as a region needs to stand together.”
Mr Mowbray believes the chamber has two major roles to play in 2012 – giving the region’s firm a voice in the corridors of power and persuading businesses to be more ambitious.
“I think there is a feeling that business needs a voice and the chamber can speak up for a lot of people,” he said.
“The Government have said they are willing to listen to business, so we will see if we can put something together for them.
“The economy has to be the priority for the year, making sure we get the maximum out of the new enterprise zones, making sure the public and private sectors are working together.
“The challenge is going to be the economy and how we help some of the smaller businesses to help them grow.
“Given the need to get the best out of manufacturing and export, how do we help those sectors to develop and how can we build on the export situation we have already got?”
Encouraging businesses to think big would be critical.
“There are people who have never thought about exporting – how do we get them to think about it, because there are some big markets close to home?
“There are some big deals people can bid for, if they put in the effort to get involved.”