Jeremy Middleton of Middleton Enterprises who is keynote speaker at the North East Chamber of Commerce Tyne and Wear AGM


Entrepreneur Jeremy Middleton will today (Wednesday March 7) warn that the North East business community needs to be prepared for the prospect of Scotland being awarded more powers by the UK Government.

The region must be ready with a list of strong ideas to protect the local economy, he will tell the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Tyne and Wear AGM.

Business Angel Mr Middleton, who owns Middleton Enterprises, also will say the North East’s ‘begging bowl’ culture has to be replaced with a spirit of enterprise if the region is to prosper.

Mr Middleton, who on the board of the North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership, was due to make his comments as the AGM’s keynote speaker.

“When the Government decides to give more powers to Scotland we need to be ready with our list of ideas to protect our economy.”

He will say the region has to ‘think big’ and threw down the challenge to North East businesses to come up with ideas for projects to that will safeguard the region’s economic wellbeing.

He also will highlight that the North East’s economic future depends on growth in the private sector and a change of attitude from dependence to enterprise.

The LEP’s role is to develop strategies and ideas that would help these happen, he will say.

He will add: “Our future depends on burying the begging bowl and creating the confidence that will encourage our people to learn, to train, to risk and to invest. It’s my view that the LEP must show leadership to support this message,” he will say.

He will argue that the LEP has the ability to help stimulate an entrepreneurial culture in the region.

“The LEP needs to keep up the pressure to push enterprise in everything it does and everything its partners do. We need to promote a ‘can do’ culture in our schools, in our further and higher education institutions and in our communities,” he will add.

Mr Middleton will dismiss the notion that there is no money available to invest in infrastructure.

He will point out the Government has announced a range of new capital projects and that finance is available via Regional Growth fund Round three, and the European Regional Development and Growing Places Funds.

“The issue isn’t the availability of funds – it is our ability to make the case for them to be spent here,” he will say.

A LEP, he will add, also has the ability to deliver results by mobilising and bringing together the skills, ideas, knowledge and resources of others including businesses, further and higher education, local authorities, and voluntary and community sector and government.

He believes the LEP should have a role in the following:

• Leading a cultural shift from dependency to enterprise.
• Championing our region in Whitehall.
• Prioritising and securing extra investment in our infrastructure and economic assets.
• Building the funding available for our businesses.
• Focusing the marketing of our region to inward investors and tourists.
• Focusing the world of education and skills on producing the skills we need, especially engineers.
• Delivering pan local authority projects, like the enterprise zone.

He will add: “It must be the LEP’s role to pull together the private sector interests and the local authority specialists to agree what infrastructure investment is needed, and to prioritise.

“Business needs to lead on where resources should be spent. This isn’t something exclusively for our seven Local Authority partners to divide up to appease their electorates. These decisions should be based on what will deliver the maximum economic impact - and the LEP is best-placed to make these calls.”

He also will say the LEP is the right body for business organisations to use to challenge the banks on the volume of their lending and on their terms and conditions.

While the Government can create an environment where business can succeed by keeping interest rates low, by keeping a flexible currency, and by reducing corporation taxes, it is down to business leaders to seize those opportunities, Mr Middleton will say.

CONTACT: Helen Logan on 01325 363436

Notes to Editors:
Middleton Enterprises Ltd is a private investment company that has made a substantial contribution to the North East’s economy by investing in and providing business advice to entrepreneurial businesses.
During recent years, it has supported seven North East businesses, generally from start-up, usually taking a minority stake and offering strategic advice to support growth.


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