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Business & Economy

North East Business Growth Board welcomes five new members

Five new appointments have been made to the Business Growth Board of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), supporting the LEP in achieving its aim of creating 100,000 more and better jobs in the North East.

Liz Bromley (chief executive of Newcastle College Group); Paul Butler (CEO of the North East Automotive Alliance); Yvonne Gale (CEO of NEL Fund Managers); Darren Laybourn (director of construction management consultant Turner & Townsend); and Steve Underwood (managing partner for Dentsu Aegis) have all joined the Board, which is chaired by entrepreneur Ammar Mirza CBE.

Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East LEP, commented: “The role of every member of the Business Growth Board is to support the North East LEP and its partners to build an ambitious and thriving economy in our region.

“As businesses across the North East begin to look at how they can recover from the impact of COVID-19, the Business Growth Board will play an important part in supporting businesses and helping to secure the long-term economic recovery of our region.”

Ammar Mirza CBE, chair of the Business Growth Board, said: “The Board is made up of individuals with significant experience, expertise and endorsement, representing the public, private and academic sectors, all with a shared ambition of making the North East a better place where we create more and better jobs, which is clearly even more important now.

“The LEP has always acted as an enabler, recognising that we must create a community underpinned by a collaborative campaign to develop an effective eco-system that will help our region restart, revive and ultimately thrive.  It is this partnership approach that will help us progress to a better place.”

Liz Bromley, chief executive of Newcastle College Group, has held a number of senior roles in education, including at the University of Salford and Goldsmiths, University of London. She has also been a board member of the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education, the CBI North West and a governor and trustee of the Sir John Brunner Foundation, among many other non-executive roles.

Paul Butler (pictured) established the North East Automotive Alliance in 2015 and it quickly became the largest automotive cluster in the UK. As a cluster benchmarking expert for the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis, Paul brings insight into business support ecosystems from across Europe. Paul has extensive knowledge of the region’s business base, having previously spent 10 years with the North East Process Industry Cluster and has supported the delivery of the UKTI Trade services across the North East. He has also previously run his own publishing business.

Yvonne Gale is CEO of NEL Fund Managers, a North East impact investment firm where she is responsible for its strategic direction and leadership. Yvonne is a finance specialist passionate about improving access to finance for small businesses and enabling economic growth.

Director of construction management consultant Turner & Townsend, Darren Laybourn has more than 32 years’ experience of delivering many of the region’s most complex real estate and infrastructure programmes. The business has circa 7000 people across 115 offices working with clients on the world’s largest projects and programmes.

The fifth new appointment to the board is Steve Underwood, managing partner for Dentsu Aegis, a global marketing services group that employs over 45,000 people across 143 countries, delivering solutions for clients that enable them to succeed in the digital economy.

Colin Bell added: “The Business Growth Board brings together some of the most skilled and ambitious people from our business and academic communities and I’m looking forward to working with our new Board members to support businesses of all shapes and sizes to grow, create new jobs and bring positive changes to communities in our region.”