'We are now getting more interest in the Humber than we ever have'
I t has been four years since Baroness Vadera began heralding the return of "green shoots of recovery" in Britain's economy.
Her comments were no doubt designed to inspire the nation's businesses that a bright future lay ahead.
However, what followed was a double-dip recession that plunged the UK into one of the most challenging economic climates since the Second World War.
Nobody would deny the past 12 months in particular have been challenging for businesses.
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However, there is now a widening gap between those waiting for the green shoots to magically appear, compared with those who have actively begun planting and nurturing their own seeds of success.
In a nutshell, businesses are beginning to realise they can be in control of their own destiny, even if they cannot control external factors ranging from the Eurozone crisis to a dramatic spike in the cost of raw materials.
In Hull and the East Riding, it is those businesses that have grasped control of their own destiny that are now reaping the rewards of their hard work.
And with Hull now bidding to take control of its own future and devolve powers from central Government via the City Deal, the time has never been better for local businesses to follow suit.
Lord Haskins, chairman of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: "We are now getting much more Government interest in the Humber than we ever have.
"The LEP has just submitted a bid for a City Deal which, if we get it, will put us on a par with other big cities such as Leeds and Manchester in terms of looking after our own destiny.
"When Michael Heseltine came to the Humber last year he was very inspired.
"He saw the Humber estuary as a hugely underused natural asset that has been largely neglected and, as a result, took great interest in the area."
Today marks a year since the Humber LEP board of directors was formally appointed, and Lord Haskins spoke of the vast strides the LEP has made over the past 12 months to ensure Hull and the Humber is perfectly placed to capitalise on its true potential.
And he stressed these achievements have only been realised as a result of the public, private and voluntary sectors working towards a common goal.
"Together, we are stronger than the sum of our parts," he said. "In our first year we have really started to build up a head of steam.
"We have helped secure the largest Enterprise Zone in the country along with £65m of Regional Growth Funding. We have also helped secure a reduction in Humber Bridge tolls, obtained funding for the A160/A180 and have lobbied Government for rail infrastructure improvements.
"This momentum will be carried forward through the delivery of our five-year plan along with the pathfinder and City Deal proposals."
It is almost impossible to believe that just a few years ago, squabbling between the north and south bank of the Humber was threatening to prevent our area securing a LEP at all.
Now, we have one of the most effective LEPs in the country and are used to showcasing what an area can achieve if everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
Lord Haskins said: "There have been a lot of differences between the north and the south bank. I think the break up of the old Humberside County Council was quite acrimonious, which has resulted in a degree of mutual suspicion.
"The LEP was formed as a result of the Government insisting both sides needed to work together.
"My job, and the job of my colleagues, was to get them to work more closely than ever before and we have made good progress, although there is still work to do."
Now, with all eyes on our area as a potential hub of renewable energy, Lord Haskins said the Humber's assets were attracting interest and investment from Europe and beyond.
But he pointed out the LEP's priorities, and those of the region as a whole, reached far wider than green energy.
"There is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes in terms of Siemens' plans for Hull and Able UK's plans for the south bank," he said.
"We have really got something going, however the emphasis can't just be on renewables.
"It has to be the whole economy, including sectors such as the Humber's growing digital and gaming industry and other traditional, important industries such as food that we must not forget.
"Everyone is doing a lot of work behind the scenes and the Government is also doing things to help, although not as much as I would like.
"But businesses also need to play their part in the region's success.
"When we come to marketing the Humber Estuary and talking to the rest of the world about how great this area is, businesses have to put their hands in their pocket as well and get behind the marketing plan, which we hope to launch by the end of this year."