North East Northern Powerhouse insight: Ben Staerk, MD at Furniture Clinic
In an ongoing series, Jamie Hardesty is talking to North East business leaders in an attempt to understand the region’s feelings towards the government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative.
The next regional entrepreneur to take part in our investigation is Ben Staerk, Managing Director of Newcastle-based Furniture Clinic.
What does the Northern Powerhouse mean to you?
I think it will be beneficial for the region and perhaps the biggest benefit would be more financial assistance and the ability for people to make decisions on a local level rather than a national or European level.
Are there signs of the Northern Powerhouse starting to bear fruit in the region?
It’s too early to say as I’ve not noticed anything tangible yet.
Has the Government done enough to convince you of its commitment to Osborne’s vision?
I know more about the Northern Powerhouse from business people trying to get me involved in promoting it rather than because of what the Government has been doing to promote it. I have learned more from The Entrepreneurs Forum and business focus groups and their discussions about it.
Transport improvement is intrinsic to the Northern Powerhouse. Do you believe that spending billions of infrastructure will improve Northern productivity?
It’s going to help some businesses, but what they spend is going to be far more than the benefit to business. It’s quite ridiculous that the capital of England and the capital of Scotland aren’t linked by motorway at present and this is something that would need to be addressed. However, transport improvements wouldn’t have any impact on my business at all.
Are there any other areas which you believe money should be spent on, ahead of transport?
Any investment in business particularly at the start-up level is to be encouraged and promoted.
Does the North East need a mayor? If so, who should it be?
I think the mayor needs to be a business person. Whoever it is needs to have enough clout that people will listen to them. It needs to be a well-known person with influence and credibility at Westminster to fight our cause.
Will the Northern Powerhouse be realised in the North East?
I think it will benefit the region as a whole – pumping more money and investment into the local economy. At a general level, transport improvements will get people and business to the region easier and, at a micro business level, cafes, bars and restaurants will benefit from an increase in trade.
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