We go to the ballot box today in what is being described as the biggest single decision of our lifetime.
We’re asking the Teesside business leaders for their opinion on how we should vote in the EU referendum.
In the second of our two-part feature, six more business leaders deliver their verdicts…
Gary Dawson, managing director, AV Dawson
“As a result of the changes in the global steel market we’ve had a great deal of uncertainty in our business and our region over the last year. I believe we should remain in the EU. The prospect of exiting from Europe would create major instability now and for some time into the future.
“Over recent years, as a business, we have experienced greater connectivity, collaboration and increased trade with our friends in Europe.
“It’s a challenging market place and putting potential trade barriers in place will affect our competitiveness.”
Stan Higgins, CEO, North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC)
“For Teesside businesses, a remain vote is definitely required. We’re deeply embedded in the European market and anything that might damage that is going to harm our local economy and cost jobs. In the longer term it will lead to investment moving away from Teesside.
“For the process and chemical industry, there are many things we cannot tackle as a lone country – climate change, for example.
“Equally, if we leave the EU, we would need new trade deals and I know that they can take a lot of negotiation. There are examples of trade negotiations taking years to get through. Some of our competitors are in Europe and there is no reason why any other countries will give us any preference. I do accept that other EU countries would still want to trade with us, so it is a double-edged sword, but even talking about it raises a risk profile that may inhibit investors.”
Roberto Pittalis, owner, Café Lilli
“I vote to remain in Europe. Over half of Britain’s trade goes to the EU. Many British jobs are directly linked to the EU marketplace and studies show that BREXIT could wipe up to 10% from the UK GDP.
“In my business to enjoy a nice glass of Primitivo or eat some good Perocrino cheese, in general to import my goods for my business, will invariably cost a lot more if we leave the EU. Better together!”
Jamie Pennington, managing director, Viral Effect
“Everyone has their opinion on the EU referendum and it’s good to see both arguments. I have some business associates who would see their businesses benefit from an exit and I have some that need to stay in the EU in order to stay afloat. It is hard to predict what would happen either way, though I am sure we would overcome any challenges that may occur, regardless of what happens.
“Personally, I strongly believe in the free movement of people. We need and do attract a lot of skilled workers and thinkers to the country that ultimately create and develop products and services that will make the country prosper.
“Take a look at Silicon Valley – all the greatest developers flock there in order to be ‘on the scene’ and generate billion dollar tech companies. If we restrict the movement of people then we may miss opportunities for people to come and build businesses that will benefit the economy and help us prosper. Taking business out of the equation, imagine restricting doctors coming into the country. Where would that leave us?”
Shaun Buckle, director, Eighty8 Design
“Many new digital start-ups are based in the Boho Zone in Middlesbrough. I’m not sure Middlesbrough Council would have been able to provide impressive new buildings such as Boho One and Boho Five if Britain hadn’t been part of the EU.
“Many of those new digital companies, including our own, have received a lot of support via EU funding. I’m concerned that much of that funding that’s so important to business on Teesside and across the North-East would stop if we left the EU.”
Carl Henderson, managing director, ecom Instruments
“We’re a German headquartered company with a UK subsidiary. A lot of our products are manufactured in Germany and shipped to the UK.
“A lot of our UK clients have European headquartered businesses, particularly in the chemical industry. We build technology solutions which include software solutions from European partners. The end result is that we deliver more efficient solutions to sites which makes them more profitable and helps create jobs.
“Leaving the EU and losing that link with Europe could prevent us from delivering solutions.
“Ultimately, if we can’t deliver best in class then it could affect the efficiency savings that we’re able to deliver to our clients. The more efficient we’re able to make the plants here on Teesside the more cost-effective they will be, helping to safeguard local jobs. So I will definitely vote to Remain.”