WEARSIDE business is to get a helping hand from a familiar face.
Ian Williams, former deputy chief executive of regional development agency One North East, will join the city council next month as a business investment director.
He will be responsible for overseeing investment in Sunderland and working with existing businesses to encourage growth.
Ian, 45, will succeed head of business investment Janet Snaith, who is retiring after more than 40 years with the council and more than 30 years working in economic development.
Leader Coun Paul Watson said: “This city has an excellent record for attracting investment from overseas and from the UK and for supporting business growth.
“During 2010 and 2011, two of the toughest years this country has faced for decades, we attracted significant new investment, cemented our reputation as the UK’s automotive centre, were awarded an enterprise zone and secured funding to build the New Wear Crossing.
“We will continue that record with the appointment of Ian Williams.
“We will all miss Janet Snaith and we all recognise her outstanding contribution to helping create new jobs and shaping the city’s economy and it is an economy that is now far more robust, resilient and diverse.”
Janet leaves on a high, with this month’s announcement that Nissan is creating 400 new jobs and up to 1,600 in the supply chain.
“I have seen tremendous and positive changes in Sunderland’s economy and believe the changes have helped make the city’s economy far more dynamic, mixed, flexible and responsive,” she said.
“It is also a more hi-tech economy and we have gone from having a large automotive plant to being the centre of UK automotive production and, with the development of more low carbon technology, the region is going to be at the centre of more technological development.
“The city’s reputation, too, for new business start-ups has grown considerably and I am sure Ian can continue to show the rest of the country and, of course, the world that this city is a good place for business.”
Ian was responsible for business investment, innovation and enterprise at One NorthEast and has 27 years’ experience in development programmes.
He has helped develop new areas of opportunity, supporting and encouraging investment in key sectors such as automotive, oil and gas, chemicals, offshore wind and business services.
“Janet is a hard to act to follow and what is recognised is that as part of a winning team Sunderland has over the years attracted record levels of investment,” he said.