I’m sure that I won’t be the only person to say that the North East of England is a fantastic place to live and work. It’s why last year Armstrong Watson expanded our presence in the region, building on the success of the well established office in Hexham by opening a new office in the centre of Newcastle. It’s why when I was approached to join the team being put together to grow the office I jumped at the chance. Here was an opportunity to join a business that sees the potential, the creativity and innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit of our region, and see it as a region in which they want to grow. At Armstrong Watson we see opportunity for the businesses with which we work and for us to help our clients thrive in what are, let’s face it, uncertain economic times.
We are soon to know the outcome of that subject which everyone tries to get through a business conversation without mentioning (it begins with a “B”). But I am not going to dwell on that – regardless of the outcome there will be opportunities for growth. You only have to look around the skylines of our major urban areas or read the local press to see symbols of growth, renewal, dare I say optimism?
On Wearside we have seen the new crossing over the River Wear which opened a year ago, and developments such as THE BEAM on the former Vaux site and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park. There has been further investment by businesses such as Lear Corporation who decided to extend their Research and Development facilities in Sunderland, and Clearly Drinks who have invested in their plant since receiving Private Equity support for a Management Buy Out in 2017.
Durham is getting in on the act too with a 20 year plan for the redevelopment of the current County Hall at Aykley Heads into a Business Park, and the recent conversion of Old Shire Hall to a hotel. Businesses such as the insurance technology innovators Honcho Markets and innovative fabrication and machining business Dyer Engineering have received investment to support growth from the Finance Durham Fund
In Tyneside and Northumberland we have the continued transformation of the former Newcastle Breweries site with the Helix development. We can look at the change that has taken place behind Central Station in Newcastle, with the mix of office and leisure development having brought these parts of Newcastle back to life. Businesses like electric powertrain experts Avid Technology in Cramlington have been supported by significant investment to support their growth plans and Newcastle based healthy eating chain The Naked Deli has bucked the national trend in their sector and started to expand their business outside of our region.
It seems to me that across our region owner managed businesses are focused on opportunity, whatever may happen with the “B” word. I am fortunate that in my role at Armstrong Watson I get to meet business owners and Directors who want to talk about the future – from how to access finance to support growth through to finding the right path for the future ownership of their business. Maybe this gives me a slightly rose tinted view on the economic confidence of our region’s businesses. I don’t think it does though – do you?