The proud industrial heritage and substantial investment on track for the coming decade, were among the subjects set out at a North East England Chamber of Commerce meeting at Teesside University.
Chaired by Chamber President and MD of Billingham-based AES Digital, Lesley Moody, there were speakers from some of the most influential businesses in the area, outlining their strategies for job creation and development.
Paul Booth, chair, Tees Valley LEP opened the event stating that his organisation pledged to raise more awareness of Government support for business growth for employers. The funds available and the paperwork associated with getting this investment can be bewildering and the LEP is determined to make it easier. He also stressed the importance of Tees Valley developing a mixed economy with tourism and leisure as well as industry promoted.
Lichfields and the Chamber organised the event in partnership, the firm's associate director, Ross Lillico outlined the scale of Tees Valley’s assets which were unrivalled in the UK, such as having the UK’s largest integrated chemical complex and major deep sea port facilities. These are complemented by internationally recognised innovation assets and the significant opportunities at the South Tees Development site.
The area’s service sector was represented by Ian Gilthorpe of Square One Law who set out why they have opened a Stockton office, due to the commercial contracts available, but believed there was still much to be done to promote the Tees Valley’s success stories.
One of these major achievements is the on-going development of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. Paul Found, COO, was clear about the advantages of being based in Tees Valley in terms of the highly skilled workers and £200m of chemical industry sector infrastructure already in place.
His business is at the forefront of biochemical innovations for customers all over the globe. One of the challenges for him is to anticipate what needs to be done to cure people 10 – 15 years from now.
The substantial potential of the River Tees was then set out by Jerry Hopkinson, COO, PD Ports. He said: “The scale of our land and the South Tees Development Corporate site is a fantastic opportunity to generate economic growth. We are investing in our business for the long term, for example, there is a new £45m deep quay for Tees Port. Now, we are the biggest shipping container port on the East Coast north of Felixstowe.”
A panel discussion with representatives from CPI, South Tees Development Corporation, Teesside University and the Chamber covered suggestions for the future including greater promotion of the area to attract skilled workers and creating a more diverse economy.