Lord Michael Heseltine returned to the Tees Valley today to launch a new Strategic Economic Plan, placing the region at the centre of a new approach to industrial strategy.
Meeting in Darlington, Lord Heseltine was joined by 250 business leaders, and the leaders of the five councils, to reaffirm commitment to the economic growth of the Tees Valley, and to use the opportunities arising from devolution to support a bright future for our region.
With a £12.3 billion economy and world class expertise in chemicals, energy, health innovation and advanced manufacturing, Tees Valley makes a major contribution to the UK economy. The Industrial Strategy for Tees Valley 2016–2026 sets out bold plans to create 25,000 additional jobs, by building on our strengths, improving skills and infrastructure, and supporting business growth.
The plan sets out key priorities and areas of activity over the next ten years including:
- Business Growth – attracting new business, improving access to finance and skills, and growing local business through an expanded Business Compass programme.
- Research, Development, Innovation and Energy – creating centres of innovation and technology, contributing to the UK’s industrial strategy in sectors of expertise; including biologics and materials.
- Education, Employment and Skills –increasing the number of graduate opportunities and vocational training, improving educational outcomes, and increasing the number of young people in education, employment and training.
- Place – creating vibrant town centres and expanding the quality and number of new homes.
- Transport and Infrastructure – plans to improve road, rail and bus services, connect Darlington to HS2, and develop plans for improved East-West connections and an additional Tees Crossing.
- The Circular Economy – proposals to develop a ‘low cost/high productivity/low carbon’ model for industry in Tees Valley, securing new investment by building clusters of companies connected through supply chains and sustainable energy supplies.
Welcoming the plan Lord Heseltine said: “Across the Tees Valley business is buoyant with 4,000 more people in work than a year ago.
“We’re determined to build the Northern Powerhouse and this Plan will help make sure the extra £450million the area will benefit from – thanks to their historic devolution deal – will be spent on projects boosting growth right across region.”
Dave Budd, Mayor of Middlesbrough and Chair of Tees Valley Combined Authority gave guests an update on the progress being made on devolution and in delivering the recommendations of the Heseltine report. Opening the event, he said: “We were pleased to welcome Lord Heseltine back to Tees Valley to launch this report. He recognised the opportunities in Tees Valley and the positive contribution our councils and businesses can make to transform our local economy. Our new plan demonstrates our determination to continue to transform our economy, accept devolved responsibilities, and set a new industrial strategy to attract investment and create good quality jobs.”
Paul Booth, Chair of Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The Tees Valley Industrial Strategy sets out a clear vision for the Tees Valley economy, with deliverable plans and investable proposals. It shows real ambition for business growth in our area. I encourage everyone in the business community to get behind these plans, and help create 25,000 new jobs and an additional £2.8 billion contribution to the local and national economy.”