Durham Bucks the Trend on Inward Investment
Durham has bucked the trend by attracting inwards investment totalling £75m over the past 12 months despite the political turmoil surrounding the UK’s relationship with Europe.
Brian Archer, Managing Director of Business Durham, Durham County Council’s highly successful economic development arm, says: “We are putting business at the heart of everything we do – and there is clear evidence that it’s paying off.”
“These are really exciting times for Durham,” says Brian. “The county is well placed to deal with a lot of the current uncertainty. We are seeing investment continuing and business growth. Occupation levels have held up really well, and there is a lot of optimism out there.”
The proposals for the Aykley Heads site in the heart of Durham City, addressing a previous shortage of high-quality office space and working parkland, are an exciting opportunity, with economic impact for the whole county. But while much of the attention may be focused on Aykley Heads, there is strength in depth at business locations across the county.
These include the £115m development of Integra 61 at Bowburn; a £153m expansion of the Aycliffe Business Park; the £20m Jade Enterprise Zone at Seaham; the further expansion of NetPark at Sedgefield; and the £100m investment in Project Genesis at Consett.
And Brian is quick to stress that his team is making the most of what Durham has to offer to businesses: a strong transport infrastructure, world-class university, high quality facilities, and invaluable financial support.
He has also been impressed by the work ethic of the North-East people and believes it is a quality that makes this region stand out. “Businesses tell us all the time that the workforce here is amazing and really differentiates the North-East from other parts of the country,” says Brian.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the culture and work ethic are really important. There is a can-do attitude here which makes it easy to do business in Durham. It’s helped to build up a lot of trust and goodwill.”
That optimism is echoed by the council’s Chief Executive, Terry Collins: “What we are seeing now are the plans that were put in place at the start of the unitary authority in 2009 coming to fruition,” he says.
“By working with the university and colleges, we can maximise the skills of our young people and retain them in this area as the supply chain grows. It takes time, but things are really happening now, and we are really keen to move on to the next phase because this is the beginning of a really exciting journey.”