There is a growing consensus within the region as to how we may achieve greater prosperity. But the North East faces something of an uphill slog in that the regional economy is characterised by low productivity, an over-dependence on the public sector and lower than average levels of entrepreneurship than in the country as a whole. We also have disadvantages, especially in digital and transport infrastructure. Yet there is encouraging progress through plans to build on the potential to attract inward investment in areas such as life sciences and health, automotive and aerospace industries, digital, offshore and sub-sea technology, oil, gas and renewables, advanced manufacturing and tourism.
As suggested in the sections on Work and Learning, philanthropy has a role in supporting this by encouraging entrepreneurialism and skills development, and ensuring that the benefits of growth extend to our most disadvantaged communities. Charitable funding can also help voluntary organisations provide a safety net to those individuals and communities for whom changes in the regional economy create short-term hardship, as traditionally important sectors, businesses and industries give way to new ones.
But perhaps the most important role for philanthropy is to underpin the contribution of the voluntary and community sector to the region’s quality of life. Since our future economic success depends on persuading the rest of the world that the North East is a great place to live, work and visit, this is vital.