The General Election is unlikely to remove uncertainty but a panel of Tees Business leaders said that, whatever the result for our area, the people of the Tees region will overcome, remain standing and continue to be as optimistic as they have been over the years of uncertainty and adversity.
More than 100 representatives of local companies attended the Tees Business Leaders Event – organised and hosted by Tees Business – in the lecture theatre at Teesside University’s Curve building.
The highlight of the event was a business panel featuring Tees Businesswoman of the Year Sharon Lane, Punch Robson’s Elaine McLaine-Wood, Baldwins partner Andrew Rowe and Susan Laing, dean of Teesside University’s business school.
Hosted by Tees Business editor Dave Allan, the discussion focused on the forthcoming election and the potential impact of Brexit uncertainty on local businesses.
Andrew Rowe admitted it was a tricky time for Teesside, telling the audience: “If there is a Tory majority, which is looking likely, we will probably get a harder Brexit.
“With a hung parliament, it will be the same situation for the next couple of years, which no one really wants. It’s a case of wait and see, but we may have to plan for further uncertainty.”
Tees Components managing director Sharon Lane agreed that uncertainty was frustrating. “As business leaders, we want to know what will happen above all else, but we are resilient enough to deal with whatever is thrown at us, as we have been doing since 2016.”
Speaking of what she perceived as a lack of interest in Teesside by the national political parties, she continued: “I’m not sure that any of us feel confident that Teesside or the North-East will be high on anyone’s agenda by the time we get to Parliament, but that’s the norm.
“Maybe the answer is devolution – to take control of our own region and get on with what we know are our fantastic opportunities here.”
Susan Laing emphasised that Teesside University is apolitical so would work out a way forward whatever the result.
“We will seek creative solutions to benefit and contribute to our region, as we do already as a university, and take it forward,” she said.
Summing up the feeling in the room, Elaine McLaine-Wood described beautifully the stalwart character of those on Teesside when faced with the turmoil of Brexit: “We traded through the recession in 2007 and worked our way through a hung parliament in 2010. Sometimes you think ‘Now what?’
“Whoever is in power, it will certainly be a rollercoaster for us. The markets will drop, there will be a huge level of cautiousness, but we will bounce back.
“The markets will go back up, the world will still revolve, the sun will come out and we will still be standing.”
The fourth and final Tees Business Leaders Panel and Networking event coincided with the launch of the winter 2019-20 issue of Tees Business.
Click here to read it.