Role of councils in economic development
All 12 councils in the North East are committed to creating the conditions for economic growth and believe working across boundaries with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and with partners in the private sector will be crucial to the future success of the North East.
One of the key messages ANEC has emphasised with government is that councils want to be part of the solution in addressing the challenging fiscal and economic circumstances affecting this area and the country. The breadth of activity already happening to support economic growth in partnership with the private sector, through Local Enterprise Partnerships and locally, is evident and was highlighted by the ANEC Economic Development Task and Finish Group.
Led by local politicians on a cross party basis, the Group heard evidence from a range of public and private sector organisations with a focus on the 'tools' for delivering economic growth:
Access to Finance - Members heard that accessing credit at an affordable cost is one of the biggest barriers that small businesses across the North East face.
Infrastructure: Digital and Broadband Communications - this theme focuses on business needs for effective and reliable digital connections.
Evidence gathered showed how councils, individually and working across boundaries, have been proactive in seeking opportunities for greater collaboration, achieving critical mass and sharing good practice to achieve positive outcomes for improving digital and broadband infrastructure in the North East.
Infrastructure: Transport, Connectivity and Energy - Members heard that the relationship between infrastructure investment, stimulating and supporting economic growth and improving the attractiveness of an area for business investment is clearly evident. Infrastructure can and should support and stimulate manufacturing and exporting, improve connectivity between cities, both within and outside the UK, and in the North East.
Promotion and Inward Investment - Members heard that the North East has the potential to make a significant contribution to national economic growth and prosperity and explored opportunities for improving the way we articulate this to create a strong case for investment in future success. Local government has a key role to play in making this happen through a variety of mechanisms including the LEPs and local businesses.
Members of the Economic Development Task and Finish Group also underlined the importance they attach to building on the good practice that already exists, whilst considering what councils might do differently in a changing environment.
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