Norfolk firms feel confident over local economy
10:54 13 May 2014
Evidence that the green shoots of the economic recovery are starting to flourish have been underscored by signs of strengthening business confidence across the county.
A poll of Norfolk firms has revealed that 91.3pc believe conditions are better now than they were six months ago, 78.3pc expect profits will rise and 60.9pc are convinced that staff numbers will increase within the next six months, according to a survey by financial specialists Grant Thornton.
The renewed positivity comes amid improved trading conditions for manufacturers, with 40pc in East Anglia expecting to boost output, 30pc believing total orders will increase and 20pc anticipating their workforces to grow, the EEF quarterly manufacturing outlook survey said.
But the county’s infrastructure woes continue to be a bugbear for businesses with 73.9pc pointing to poor roads as the main challenge stifling the county’s economic progress, while 56.5pc believe it to be the skills shortage and 47.8pc say citing its limited broadband access, according to Grant Thornton’s findings.
Toby Wilson, of Grant Thornton Norwich, said: “Our survey strongly suggests that confidence among Norfolk businesses is firmly on the up, mirroring the signs we are seeing nationally as the economy continues its recovery.
“Encouragingly, this optimism looks set to continue with the majority of those surveyed expecting to inject capital into their businesses and take on more staff over the next six months.
“Norfolk traditionally has a number of strong key sectors which make a major contribution the county’s economy including agriculture and tourism.
“But there is much more on offer here for businesses with a strong service sector amongst others and the growing tech sector and also agri-tech, supported by the institutes at Norwich Research Park.
“However, the results of our preliminary poll suggests that the perception of our county and the skills gap (something of a national issue) experienced by many firms needs addressing if Norfolk is going to continue to move forward and continue to attract the type of ambitious companies which will help power the county’s economic future.”
Grant Thornton will unveil a detailed analysis of how Norfolk businesses are performing as part of its Norfolk Limited results published on June 3.
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