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Northern Powerhouse Minister key speaker at NEAA Expo


Local Growth and Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton has been unveiled as the keynote speaker for the first North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) Expo later this month.

The Minister will address the major Meet the Buyer event at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Thursday, September 24. The Expo, organised by the industry-led cluster group NEAA with support from Make it Sunderland, Tees Valley Unlimited and Zerolight, will bring together more than 250 delegates from the automotive sector including buyers travelling to the region from Jaguar Land Rover’s headquarters in Coventry.

James Wharton will speak about the strength of the North East’s automotive industry, which is responsible for £7 billion in annual sales and directly employs 26,000 people.

He said: “The North East and Teesside’s strong and thriving automotive industry is a key part of creating a Northern Powerhouse and has enormous potential to bring further growth and jobs to the local economy.

“The Government is determined to rebalance the economy and I want our businesses to tap into the opportunities this industry offers to ensure the future success of Teesside and the North East.”

NEAA chief executive, Paul Butler, said: “It’s a real coup to secure the services of James Wharton to speak at the NEAA Expo.

“The North East’s automotive sector will play a crucial role in the drive to create a Northern Powerhouse, and we’re delighted that its importance is recognised by the Government.

“Our Meet the Buyer event has also scored a coup by bringing Jaguar Land Rover to the region for the first time, along with another eight high profile buyers.

“This event really is a must-attend for any companies working in – or aiming to work in – the automotive supply sector.”

Nine buying companies have been confirmed for the event, most recently Faurecia. Komatsu and Nissan will be present, as well as Land Rover Jaguar, which is coming to the region for the first time from its heartlands in the Midlands.

In addition to the Minister, the Expo will feature talk from leading business figures in the automotive sector. Lawrence Davies, deputy chief executive of the Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO), will talk on the £4 billion reshaping of the automotive supply chain. Mike Matthews, managing director of Nifco UK, vice chair of the NEAA and newly appointed president of NECC, will discuss the turn round of Nifco and the strength of the automotive sector in the North East. John Cant of DS Smith will talk about how his company moved into supplying the automotive sector, which now accounts for 100 per cent of the firm’s business.

The event will be opened with an address from Sunderland City Council leader, Councillor Paul Watson. Delegates will have the opportunity to take part in free technical workshops and network at trade stands throughout the day.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.