“Count the jobs. Count the cranes. And feel the vibe.”
Paul Callaghan yesterday told an audience of business leaders construction projects alone will be worth £1.8billion to Wearside’s economy over the next nine years but the challenge is to ensure the city reaps the maximum benefit.
The chairman of the city’s economic leadership board was outlining more details of the city’s 3, 6, 9 economic vision at Sunderland University’s new Fab Lab in Silksworth Row.
The vision complements the city council’s own Economic Masterplan that was first published in 2010 and is currently being reviewed.
“It is about belief – if we believe we can transform this city,” said Mr Callaghan.
The 3, 6, 9 Vision outlines how over the next nine years Sunderland will create:
We have to get more kids, with better qualifications, staying on at college, going to university. There are jobs, there are careers. Let’s get the kids buzzing about this.Paul Callaghan
n 5,000 new jobs in Advanced Manufacturing and Automotive industries;
n 2,000 new jobs in Software;
n 1,500 new jobs in Social Enterprises;
n 2,500 as a result of city centre developments on the Vaux site, and in the MAC Quarter centred on the old fire station in High Street West.
The plan - which looks at what the city will be like in three, six and nine years’ time and suggests events and themes to concentrate on in preparation - had been inspired by the news the Tall Ships Race would be coming to the Wear in 2018, said Mr Callaghan.
“Two million people are going to come to the city, maybe they will never have been here before – let’s show them what the city is going to look like,” he said.
The decision had then been taken to bid to become Britain’s City of Culture three years after the Tall Ships’ visit.
“We are going to win City of Culture in 2021,” he said.
“Hull have won it, Belfast have won it, it has transformed Liverpool. It changes the way people live.”
He said the city faced a dual challenge to ensure its economic prosperity – training a new generation and giving them a reason to stay on Wearside rather than leave.
The 3, 6, 9 vision was about improving the quality of life in the city as well as the quality of jobs, encouraging graduates to stay or return rather than take their skills elsewhere.
“We have to get more kids, with better qualifications, staying on at college, going to university. There are jobs, there are careers. Let’s get the kids buzzing about this,” he said. His comments were echoed by city council leader Coun Paul Watson who said businesses looking to come to the area would be influenced by the availability of skilled workers.
“We have to upskill our people because that will attract other businesses here,” he said.
Coun Watson told the audience £1.3billion had been invested across the city in the last five years.
The 3, 6, 9 Vision was central to the council’s economic strategy, he said.
“It is presenting a dynamic mix of new projects underway right across the city, as well as an exciting list of things in the pipeline.”
“A private and public sector partnership will continue to be essential as we work together to deliver economic growth.
“It is very timely to produce a fresh economic plan that builds on the last one. We can learn from lessons from the development and delivery of the previous Masterplan and respond to the new and emerging opportunities.
“By working together on these and other projects, we can ensure that collectively we achieve these targets – and even more.
“We must ensure that local residents benefit from the new job opportunities, and have the necessary skills to actively participate in the labour market.
“We must also develop a vibrant and culturally rich city, with major events putting the city firmly on the global map. Securing the Tall Ships Race in 2018 and committing ourselves to bid for UK City of Culture in 2021, are both key ingredients.
“Clearly the city council alone, cannot create jobs and wealth, but it can and will create the conditions for businesses to grow and flourish, from start-ups to SMEs to our large, international companies.”