Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Let's Get Them Investing in Us, Says New Chair

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Let's Get Them Investing in Us, Says New Chair

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional affairs correspondent

THE Government body tasked with bringing international firms to the North East could be doing more for the region, the new man tasked with creating jobs has claimed.

Paul Callaghan has been unveiled as the soon-to-be chair of tourism and inward investment body the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative.

The former chairman of regional development agency One North East will head up an organisation trying to boost tourism and encourage new firms to locate here.

That second role is shared with jobs quango UK Trade and Investment, who, the Government promised, would fill the gap left by the development agency which helped bring the likes of electric vehicle production to Sunderland's Nissan factory.

But questions have been raised over UKTI's success rate, with few big name firms coming to the region amid growing concern that success for the quango is not measured on a regional basis.

The result, critics say, is that there is little incentive for civil servants to back the region.

Mr Callaghan has said improving the work of UKTI is one of his key aims in his new role.

He told The Journal: "This Government has taken a more hands off approach than previous Governments, which is fine but that also means less money coming from central Government. I want the likes of UKTI to recognise the North East as a great place to bring overseas investment to.

"When we had regional teams doing inward investment they understood the patch, the strengths, and we need that again, because it is not clear if we have it to the same level now.

"UKTI, while it does a good job nationally, needs to have more focus on the North East, and we will have to work with them more closely to achieve that."

Last night the North East Chamber of Commerce said there was more to be done by many organisations to help bring jobs and investment to the region. …

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