I just held the first in my series of business breakfasts on 15 July 2016 at the Evolve Business Centre at Rainton Bridge.
I’d like to thank Iain Wright MP, Chair of Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee for attending as guest speaker, and everyone who came along and contributed to the discussions.
The goal of my business breakfast series is to listen to local businesses about their concerns - what they think are the most important issues for boosting local economic growth and promoting our region’s competitive advantage. If you missed this one but would like to receive the invite to my next event, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, position, business name, business address, email, and your phone number.
In my constituency of Houghton and Sunderland South, over 99% of all enterprises are small and medium sized businesses. They truly are the backbone of our local economy.
The issue that we returned to throughout the event was skills. I hope to focus more on this at the next event - particularly on the skills gap, apprenticeships and investment in education.
Our area has so much talent and potential, with so many inspiring business owners who work really hard, take tremendous risks, and make a big contribution to our local economy. However, the support from central government does not match up with what they deserve.
Iain Wright MP, the Chair of Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, raised some important points on the so-called Northern Powerhouse – how some big urban areas that are already doing well have been receiving additional funding, whereas areas such as our region that desperately need more investment in infrastructure are being left behind.
Beth Farhat, Regional Secretary to the TUC Northern, pointed out the importance of improving skills and protecting workers’ rights, particularly in light of our country’s decision to withdraw from the European Union.
Ted Salmon, Regional Chairman of the FSB North East, shared with us his experience of how impressed overseas investors are when they visit and see for themselves what our region has to offer. He emphasised the importance of transport infrastructure and connectivity, a lack of which currently puts our region at a disadvantage compared to cities with easy access to airports and rail lines.
Education, workers’ rights, and transport infrastructure are important issues I have consistently campaigned for in parliament. With a new Prime Minister and new government formed, it is more important than ever to stand up for our region’s best interests. I'm keen to meet more local businesses at my next event and to hear your concerns and ideas.