SUNDERLAND’S new Vantec warehouse has already played a critical role in the future economic success of the whole region.
That is the verdict of North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) chairman Paul Woolston, who says the massive £22.5million development was vital to persuading Chancellor George Osborne to expand the new North East Enterprise Zone.
Mr Osborne visited the Turbine Business Park, next to Nissan, last year to see progress on the project for himself and Mr Woolston believes the trip was critical in convincing him to extend the zone.
Vantec is the first project nationwide to be completed in any of the enterprise zones nationwide since they were first announced in 2011.
“Having seen this come together so quickly gave the chancellor the confident to say ‘they can do business here – let’s give them a bit more hectarage,” said Mr Woolston, speaking as the warehouse was officially opened yesterday.
The LEP had been given more flexibility to help businesses with the extension of the zone, which was good news for the whole region.
“The big difference with this allocation is it is demand-led,” he said.
“For this zone, we had to designate an area and then attract people to it.
“With the new one, if we can find a business that wants to come to the region, we can designate the area afterwards.”
City council leader Councillor Paul Watson said the Vantec development was a statement of intent from Wearside and the wider region about its role as a major centre for the car industry.
“Everybody who has come here can’t believe how quickly the partners have worked together to make this happen,” he said.
“It is going a long way to helping the North East, and Sunderland in particular, to push forward our reputation as a centre for automotive working throughout the world.
“I believe Sunderland has the best workforce in the country and, indeed, in Europe, and that is demonstrated more and more each time we have a success like this.”