THE first 150 jobs are up for grabs at a new multimillion-pound car parts supply plant on Wearside – with another 150 to come.
The U.S.-based Lear Corporation is developing a new factory at Rainton Bridge Industrial Estate, which will produce foam for vehicle seats.
The move will create 300 new jobs, with recruitment for the first phase of 150 already under way.
Gideon Jewel, Lear’s president of seating operations, Europe and Africa, flew into the region to put pen to paper on the deal.
“It is a big day,” he said.
“To be able to create 300 jobs when we have the economic climate that we do at the moment in Europe is particularly exciting.
“So far we have a core team of 35 and the rest of the posts will be filled in two phases.
“We are recruiting for the first phase of 150 at the moment.”
The new plant is next door to Tacle UK, Lear’s joint venture with Japanese company Tachi-S, which has been making car seats for Nissan since 2005.
Mr Jewel said the company’s relationship with Sunderland City Council had been a crucial factor in the decision to bring the new factory to Wearside.
“We have always had a strong relationship, not just when we were creating those jobs but all the way through,” he said.
“The belief in manufacturing that we have experienced here made it a relatively easy decision.”
Council leader Coun Paul Watson said the move was a major statement of confidence in Wearside.
“When you look at the economic position not just in Europe, but throughout the Western World, to see a company having the confidence to invest like this is a real fillip,” he said.
“We promised that we would leave no stone unturned, we would scour the world for jobs for Sunderland, and this is an example of how we have done that.”
For the council’s chief investment officer Tom Hurst, and the business investment team, the signing was the end of 18 months of negotiations.
“They looked at the rest of Europe and they certainly could have gone anywhere in the UK,” he said.
“Even when we got into detailed negotiations in February of this year, it still has been a long time coming.”
To apply for a job at the new plant, write to Lisa Peart, Lear Corporation, Phoenix Way, Rainton Bridge Industrial Estate, DH4 5SA.