North East mayor commits to building “brighter and better” future at Chamber event

Author - Courtney Hiles

Date published:

Newly-appointed North East Mayor Kim McGuinness has addressed some of the region’s leading businesses and organisations at a Chamber event on just day two of her term.

Kim spoke to our members about her vision for the region and emphasised the importance of leading through listening at the Partner and Corporate Business Breakfast.

Kim, who will lead the new North East Combined Authority, also discussed the close relationship between economic and social policy as twin drivers for a stronger, fairer North East.

Mayor McGuinness said: “This is a momentous week for our region. For the first time, our region takes the power we deserve from Westminster and brings it closer, to have more of a say of how we run the region. This is step one.

“I’m very grateful to be giving my first speech at an event hosted by the UK’s best chamber.

“You, as a business community, knew we could do this, that we should do this. That this, the best region in the world, could create growth within. For that I am very grateful. For giving us the confidence to get this over the line, and I know you will be a huge part of taking this to the next level.

“We all feel the winds of change, we’re having those conversations already. I feel confident on day two, that we will have the backing and support, and challenge, from the chamber and its members to embark on this journey. It is our job collectively to make sure that the future is brighter and better.”

Kim added: “Mayors don’t create jobs, businesses create jobs. We will not grow this region without a significant collective effort. My ask of you is that we continue this journey together.

“We can show government that this is the best place to live, work, visit and invest. This region has a future with huge opportunity.”

Kim said it’s “imperative” the combined authority and the Chamber work together, adding: “I want to spend time with Chamber members to understand the opportunities as you see them so we can shape our region’s future.”

The new mayor invited members to join her at the table to help solve issues such as health inequalities and skills shortages. Members also asked questions around culture, planning, investment and developing effective communication strategies.

Kim said: “I really believe in openness. I want to be out there talking up the region and talking to people about what we’re doing and what they want, so everyone understands the difference we’re making. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is authenticity is key.”

John McCabe, chief executive at the Chamber, said: “A huge thank you to Kim for honouring her commitment to listen to the business community and work closely with us to understand the fantastic opportunities to accelerate growth and improve lives across the North East, but also to understand the barriers to growth.”

He added: “Devolution is hugely important to us. We’ve consistently advocated for deeper devolution, for more investment and more powers.

“We’ve worked really closely with combined authority on delivering this, feeding in our members’ business priorities and asks, and we’ll continue to work hand in glove with Kim and her team to create a stronger, fairer North East.”

Darush Dodds, director of corporate affairs and ESG at Esh Group, congratulated Kim on her appointment as mayor and commented on the North East’s “collaborative, innovative and highly diversified” business community.

He added: “Our new mayor is our region’s advocate, our loud, proud voice in Westminster and a conduit which prioritises and elevates our region as a whole. Together with the mayor and the North East Combined Authority, the region’s businesses will play a vital role in delivering for the future, and in doing so, can provide high quality, well paid and secure jobs.

“The combined authority is going to be a part of everyone’s journey, ours included. On behalf of the region’s businesses, we wish you the best for the future.”

Following her election on 2 May, Mayor McGuinness will lead the new North East Combined Authority, which has access to a £48million annual investment fund and dedicated budgets for functions such as transport, skills, housing and culture.

The combined authority is a result of the government’s devolution deal, bringing together the seven local authorities and representing two million people living in the North East.

Our Partner and Corporate Business Breakfast took place today (8 May) at Lumley Castle and was sponsored by Esh Group.

Photo caption: (l-r) John McCabe, chief executive at the North East Chamber; Nigel Emmerson, chair of Chamber Partners and head of the Newcastle office and the National Living Sector at Womble Bond Dickinson; North East mayor Kim McGuinness; Darush Dodds, director of corporate affairs and ESG at Esh Group; Deb Walton, Chamber vice president and chief financial officer at Palintest.

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