As part of a report I am pulling together, I have been looking back over the last 12 months at local business developments and activity.
The exercise has served as a reminder to me of how well the Northamptonshire economy has performed during 2012/13 and of the feel-good factor alive in the local business community.
The 2012 Olympics generated in excess of £100 million for Northamptonshire, with local firms winning 65 Olympic-related contracts. In July, the Olympic torch also passed through several towns in the county, creating a patriotic atmosphere in Northampton, Wellingborough, Corby, Kettering, Isham, Geddington and Dingley. This capitalised further on the legacy of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in June, which saw many of our member companies mark the occasion with celebratory events for staff.
In September, Northamptonshire was crowned the Most Enterprising Place in Britain by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Enterprising Britain competition looked for the place that could best demonstrate a positive impact of enterprise on the community over the past two years. Northamptonshire County Council won the accolade for helping to generate economic prosperity across the county and for encouraging exports.
Exporting showed itself to be an unstoppable trend throughout 2012/13. This was evident from our Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) results and also from figures released by HM Revenue & Customs, which showed that exports from the East Midlands reached a record high of £13.5 billion in 2012 - £500 million ahead of the 2011 total. In August 2012, Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, when talking in the House of Commons on the subject of business confidence, cited our QES saying that it showed a ‘positive picture’ of the economy and was a ‘more accurate indication of the underlying trends in the economy’ than the news, which ‘paints an unduly pessimistic picture’.
In Northampton, the creation of the agreed Enterprise Zone gathered pace with lots of exciting projects getting underway. These included the £20 million transformation of Northampton Castle Railway Station, a £25 million expansion to Carlsberg’s bottling plant, a new purpose-built campus and halls of residence for The University of Northampton and a £8 million bus interchange. Plans have also been approved for the construction of an Innovation Centre and other office developments, providing premises for small and start-up businesses. All of which should benefit residents and businesses in neighbouring towns.
The business world has, and is continuing to change, and this new world belongs to businesses with the passion, knowledge and people to stand out from the competition and thrive. Our local firms have responded positively to change over the last 12 months and I am confident that our local economy will continue to prosper throughout 2013/14.