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What are your predictions for North East business for 2017? 

Simon Green 
Executive director, VentureFest North East

Given the political and economic uncertainty following events of 2016, the coming year will be a time of change. In such times, those that can adapt the quickest will do well, while more structured, inflexible businesses might struggle. There will be opportunities for smaller enterprises to catch up on established players or to partner with them by providing the disruptive thinking large organisations struggle with. Availability of finance for these innovative businesses will improve as new initiatives come on stream, London investors expand their scope into the North and exchange rates make UK investments more attractive to overseas investors. 2017 promises to be an exciting time for us all.

Ross Smith 
Director of policy, North East England Chamber of Commerce

The word I hear more often than any other is ‘uncertainty’, so I’m loath to make predictions. Many forecasters are predicting slower growth next year, and it’s certainly a concern that consumer spending may slow if the drop in Sterling leads to higher inflation. The good news for North East England is that, as an export-focused region, we’re less reliant on that than the UK as a whole. I think we’ll see many of our members use their enterprise and ingenuity to take advantage of the exchange rate and strengthen our position as the best international traders in the country.

Liz Mayes 
North East regional director, EEF

This year will undoubtedly be dominated by Brexit with a question mark over what impact triggering Article 50 will have on investment and recruitment decisions. Manufacturers’ confidence collapsed following the referendum result, but has since corrected and, all things being equal, should continue to hold up into next year. Risks abound, but key indicators for the manufacturing sector are moving into the positive and this should continue into the new year.

The fall in the value of sterling continues to brighten the export picture – the flipside being that rising input prices could see firms’ profits coming under continued pressure, which could force prices up. But manufacturers are adept at managing in uncertain and challenging times and I’ll go into 2017 optimistic that our dynamic industry will continue to build the right strategies for a bright future.

Sarah Glendinning 
North East regional director, CBI

2016 has been a significant year of change, on a regional, national and international scale. However, despite all the turmoil, businesses we work with at the CBI continue to knuckle down, seek and exploit new opportunities, collaborate with partners and innovate.

I’m confident that they will continue to do so and as the New Year begins, that pragmatism and positive spirit will grow. By continuing to work together we will make the best of what 2017 brings for our region.

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