WEARSIDE has received a much-needed double economic boost.
George Osborne was in the region today to officially open the new North East Enterprise Zone, as car parts firm Vantec unveiled plans to create more new jobs.
The Chancellor this morning also announced a major extension of the zone, as he inspected progress on Vantec’s 421,000 sq ft new warehouse close to the A19.
Mr Osborne was joined by Takao Suzuki, chief executive officer of Vantec’s parent company Hitachi Transport System, who revealed that the firm is to create a further 81 jobs, on top of the 230 new posts already announced.
The latest jobs are the result of contracts with Nissan and another North East automotive supplier.
“When I announced the decision to create the enterprise zone I said that if it was a success, I would consider the case for expanding it,” said Mr Osborne.
“What I’ve seen with my own eyes today at Vantec shows that it is a success.
“I can confirm that the Government will offer new tax breaks for an additional 40 hectare site - provided a local agreement can be struck in the next 12 months.
“This is a further commitment by this Government to enterprise in the North East, helping the private sector create sustainable jobs and lasting industry, replacing the unsustainable public borrowing of the past.”
Paul Woolston – chairman of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, which manages the enterprise zone – said: “This announcement is great news.
“We welcome the Chancellor’s visit today, and we are delighted with the news that the success of the North East Enterprise Zone, leading the way in the UK by attracting major international investment, is to be extended, which will bring hundreds of new job opportunities to the region.
“The NE Local Enterprise Partnership has been working hard to bring about an extension of the zone for many months, and this is a tremendous result for all involved.
“It’s great to see Vantec’s tremendous progress. The North East, and Sunderland in particular, is already a hugely important area for the UK’s automotive industry.
“The city’s ambitions to become Europe’s automotive hub are enhanced by this development, and we are working hard alongside the City Council and partners to build on this success by attracting new investors to the region.”
Mr Suzuki said: “We are delighted that Vantec has received strong support from the government, the NE Local Enterprise Partnership and Sunderland City Council.
“This is the largest project Vantec has undertaken and it’s an important step forward for the company, which is now the largest supplier of critical logistics to Nissan Sunderland plant.”
Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson added: “We build strong relationships with national and international investors who recognise the strengths of locating in our city and region.
“Sunderland is a world-class destination for automotive companies and we are building on that reputation with major new investments this year.”