I’ve been looking at some new research findings* and they seem to prove some points that I’ve referred to before in this column.
The East of England could, according to the research, contribute £50bn to the UK economy by 2025 “with better infrastructure and the ability to attract skilled staff”.
It appears that, when asked, businesses cited as the three main things they need to increase revenue are – infrastructure (81%), recruiting skilled staff (61%) and international trade (41%).
And there they are, the three strands that so often come to the top of the agenda for West Norfolk.
We know we have the potential, we know that the region can contribute significantly to the national economy, but we need the tools to do the job.
Two things emerge. Firstly, let’s look at those requirements, and the job to be done, in a practical rather than purely statistical way. They all interlink into the commercial mix. Overseas trade is vital to increase revenue. To achieve it we need good people.
In today’s world even the best people can’t operate without excellent infrastructure. That’s not just the road and rail links to move people and goods around, but the digital infrastructure to connect with customers at home and abroad. It should be a seamless backdrop against which trade will flourish.
Secondly, the tools are needed to meet what is becoming a clearer objective. We must increase productivity in our region to a G7 country average. There’s an irony here. The East of England is already fourth out of twelve regions in terms of productivity, but the gross added value per employee is below the national average.
The circle continues. Boost that productivity and we could contribute over £50bn to the UK economy. To achieve it we need improved infrastructure, skilled staff and good overseas trade.
It seems that whichever way we come at it, through our own informed commercial intuition, or formal research, the evidence consistently mounts to prove not only the importance of those three vital elements, but also that we have in our region the potential to excel.