10 April, 2008 – Trade Minister praises North West Companies' Innovation
Lord Digby Jones, trade minister and former CBI chief praised North West manufacturers for their innovation and increased output as a 'fabulous achievement'.
Speaking at the annual Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce dinner, quoted figures released from the Office of National Statistics showing factory output rising 0.4 percent last month – an anchievement considering today’s economic climate.
During the keynote speech to over 700 guests at the dinner, he praised the diversity of the region’s econonmy, and some of the businesses enjoying global success.
"You deserve a lot of praise for the way you have innovated. I am delighted to see that the north west is the leading region in the country for developing good quality business and has developed to become one of the great economic drivers of the UK economy."
He added: "As a Brummie it’s not easy to say, but I can find no better place than the north west in terms of having a diverse manufacturing base, whether it’s engineering manufacturing at Rolls-Royce, automotive manufacturing at Bentley or pharmaceuticals manufacturing at AstraZeneca."
He praised Manchester’s ‘first-class global’ university and said knowledge and transport infrastructure were the two key factors that determined the success of a city or region.
"Our universities will be where the wealth is created, and it is vital if this country is to compete globally we have a vibrant knowledge-based sector.
"Transport too is important, we have to have the right infrastructure, instread of being anti air travel we have to make sure that planes are full and are greener. Declaring war on airports and airlines will only damage the economy from a global persepctive."
He said amid challenging economic conditions it was vital that companies continue to invest in skills and training.
Chamber president David McKeith, senior partner at accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, urged members to engage with policymakers to shape the future of Greater Manchester.
He said "The main lesson is that you can only have an influence if you make your voice heard and get involved in a constructive way." He said there was a need to ‘think Greater Manchester’, rather than at a local level.
One of the reasons for taking on the role, Mr McKeith said was because this year was a `pivotal’ time for the city, in terms of the transport debate over tackling congestion and also the governance structure of Greater Manchester.
He said it was vital for companies to engage on these key issues: "Recognise that you can influence the business environment around you – and that Greater Manchester Chamber offers the best way to do that," he added.
Source: Manchester Evening News