Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls to speak on the North East economy in panel discussion

Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, is to take part in a panel discussion focusing on business investment, at an event organised by North East British/Irish business network, Lionra.

Mr Balls will be joined by Paul Woolston, Chair of North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Catherine Walker, Inward Investment Director of NewcastleGateshead Initiative at the event which will take place at the Great North Museum: Hancock on Thursday 19 February.

The event will be chaired by Maurice Duffy, CEO of business transformation specialist, Blackswan, and the founder of the Lionra Network. He said: “The Lionra Network has a strong business focus to it, caring passionately about the North East and its future direction and growth. We also have strong connections across the business and political spectrum in the UK. We have worked hard to attract such a distinguished panel, each with their own perspectives, to speak about key business challenges facing the North East over the next five years. The fact that we have the Shadow Chancellor taking part so close to the election is bound to create a great deal of interest as is seen by the growing attendance list.”

The agenda for the event will cover North East growth based on business and inward investment and there will be a mixture of short presentations, panel discussion with a Q&A session and networking.

Catherine Walker, Inward Investment Director at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “I’m delighted to be involved with the panel discussion. Inward investment, and business growth and retention are major components affecting regional growth, with both having the ability to create and protect valuable jobs and send out powerful confidence messages to the market.

We’re solution driven as a region and though we’re seeing success by challenging how we do business, the changing scale and types of investment that we’re seeing mean we need to continually adapt our approach. For example, emerging or disruptive technologies are changing the skills needed by businesses such as big data, and there’s a trend towards buying companies rather than starting up. How we go about tackling these challenges is vital to the future growth of our local and regional economies and I’m looking forward to discussing and debating a practical strategy to address these over the next five years and beyond.”

Paul Woolston, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “Supporting business investment is one of the pillars of the North East Strategic Economic Plan. The North East LEP is winning hundreds of millions of pounds of Government and EU investment which is being used to back companies with growth plans, helping them deliver more and better jobs to drive new economic growth.

“Lionra’s event is a valuable opportunity to highlight business investment successes and challenges in the North East, led by speakers and an audience who all care passionately about the future of our local economy.”

The event, which is free to attend, will begin with a wine and cheese reception taking place from 5pm in Exhibition Hall 3.

For further information on both events please contact Amani Matharu at or call 0845 603 2815.

Issued by Daniel O’Mahoney, Bradley O’Mahoney Public Relations on behalf of the Lionra 0191 519 7450

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