Sunderland’s hugely successful automotive industry was one of the highlights of the North East’s inustrial success stopries showcased to a senior Government official during a visit to the region.
Philip Rycroft, head of the UK Governance Group and senior Whitehall sponsor for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), visited Washington Business Centre, at the heart of the Sunderland A19 Low Carbon Enterprise Zone (EZ) as a guest of the LEP.
The A19 Low Carbon EZ is home to Zero Carbon Future’s Future Technology Centre, which houses a number of alternative fuel automotive companies carrying out research and manufacture, including Smith Electric Vehicles, Hyperdrive, Effective Transport Solutions and ELM EV
The EZ also includes Turbine Business Park, where logistics and distribution giant Vantec built a huge 421,000 sq ft warehouse in 2013 to provide warehousing space for contracts won from Nissan and another local North East automotive supplier. The project created 230 jobs and was the first new Enterprise Zone development to be completed in England.
Vantec is now building a third 436,000 sq ft warehouse and office building at Hillthorn Business Park for the new Nissan Inifinti model. The £23 million development, which will create 120 jobs, is partially funded through the enterprise partnership’s North East Investment Fund.
Mr Rycroft met leaders and chief executives from Sunderland, South Tyneside, Newcastle and North Tyneside Councils during his visit to Washington.
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson said: “Washington Business Centre and the wider Sunderland Enterprise Zone are real success stories for the region.
“Sunderland is already on the map for its strong automotive industry, led by the continuing success of Nissan and its thriving supply chain. I’m pleased Philip Rycroft saw for himself the growth of the low-carbon sector in Sunderland, which is set to play a major part in our future growth.
“The confidence of multinationals such as Vantec to invest in the area, creating hundreds of jobs, reinforces the importance of these sectors both to our economy in Sunderland, and the wider North East.”
Mr Rycroft’s visit also included tours of Shepherds Offshore and the North Bank of the Tyne Enterprise Zone, AIS on the North Tyne Tunnel Industrial Estate and NetPark in Sedgefield.