Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 16.51.04Skills high on the agenda for Mike Matthews MBE.

The new presidency of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) was made official on Tuesday, as Newcastle International Airport’s Chief Executive Dave Laws handed over NECC’s chains of office to Nifco MD Mike Matthews MBE.

As Mr Matthews took to the podium for the first time as NECC President, it was clear that he was ready to jump straight into his new role at the region’s largest business membership organisation, with skills high on the agenda.

“It’s a tremendous honour to become NECC’s President, even more so during this 200th anniversary year,” said Mr Matthews.

“The NECC is an institution that is plugged into business like no other and one that is a real force for good.

“The business landscape has changed in many ways in the North East.  Our marketplace is now worldwide and we have an abundance of talent, and fantastic natural assets which we need to build upon.

“Skills success equates to sales success and by addressing the skills shortage and investing and promoting the value of apprenticeships, we can attract investment to our region. We have a global reputation for innovation and export and we can shape the destiny of our region by working together.  We need to be a region that understands the strengths of its parts, but that recognises that the sum is greater.”

During his last address as President, Dave Laws thanked NECC members for working with him over the last two years and wished Mr Matthews well in his new position.

“The North East has come a long way but we have so much further to go,” said Mr Laws.

“I have no doubt NECC will be at the forefront, playing a major part in our region’s economic plan and making sure members’ voices are heard. It has been fantastic to work with the Chamber and its members and I’ll be leaving the presidency in very capable hands.”

Following the official business of the AGM, James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive of NECC presented members with a brief history of the region’s strong industrial heritage.

“The last year has brought many changes and the year ahead will be an interesting one that will bring with it new opportunities for North Eat business,” said Mr Ramsbotham.

“As we thank Dave Laws for his dedication over the last two years and welcome Mike Matthews to NECC, we are renewed in our passion to promote our region and everything we can achieve.”