Coalition of northern RDAs launches £1m campaign

The Northern Way – a coalition of three regional development agencies – has handed a two-year, £1m account to Newcastle-based agency Gardiner Richardson.

Comprising One NorthEast, Yorkshire Forward and the Northwest Development Agency, the group aims to plug the £30bn 'productivity gap' in business between the North and the rest of England over the next 20 years. Pilot schemes include encouraging young people to set up in business and luring people off incapacity benefit.

Gardiner's brief involves lobbying northern MPs, MEPs, regional development agencies, the Treasury and corporations. The aim is to encourage ministers to tackle unemployment in the North and prioritise investment by highlighting evidence of the effectiveness of regeneration.

As well as media relations, Gardiner will liaise with stakeholders such as universities and local authorities, as well as groups such as the Chambers of Commerce. It will also seek to engage local  communities.

In April 2005, The Northern Way was allocated a £1.5m comms budget to run for three years. The budget for 2006 is £510,000. The Government will decide in 2008 whether to continue funding the project.

It was set up after Deputy PM John Prescott pledged to help accelerate economic growth in the North.

Gardiner was appointed after a four-way pitch for the work, led by account director Sharron Ashurst. It has worked with The Northern Way since 2004 on projects.

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