Tees devolution gives us reasons to be cheerful – exclusive

Business leader Mike Matthews says the region has many reasons to be cheerful – thanks largely to the Tees devolution deal.

The managing director of Eaglescliffe-based car parts manufacturer Nifco recently completed his two-year tenure as president of the North East England Chamber of Commerce (NEECC).

And Matthews insists, despite the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, that Teesside can look ahead with optimism after a string of positive developments.

As well as £15m a year in devolved money from the government, the Tees Valley Combined Authority recently secured an additional £6m in devolved funding from government to support up to 2,500 people into employment.

The combined authority has already secured an extra £200m from the Teesside Pension Fund to help fund projects to support the economic growth of the area.

In our exclusive video interview, which can be seen by clicking here, Matthews tells Tees Business: “We have all our usual challenges, but we have a lot to be positive about at the moment.

“Under the Tees Valley’s devolution deal, and under the auspices of the combined authority, I know the collaboration is first class, and the bringing together under the new Mayor (Ben Houchen) is fantastic.

“Seeing the things that are coming out of the Tees Valley recently, such as the investment of the local authority pension fund, is wonderful.

“We’ve got lots of new business opportunities, there are new technologies occurring, we still have a huge way to go in renewable energy, manufacturing still has lots to do, the petrochemicals industry still has lots of opportunities and the digital sector is growing fantastically.

“What we need to do as a region is make sure the nation as a whole hears as much about Tees Valley as they do about Manchester, Liverpool or London.”

Matthews, who started his career as an apprentice tool maker, was proud to have served as NEECC’s president during a two-year stint.

“I’d sum up my two years as a fantastic experience,” he added.

“My network of colleagues and businesses grew extensively and my knowledge of what’s going on in the North-East grew extensively.

“It also made me understand what a fantastic organisation the NEECC is and what a sterling job they do for the whole of the North-East.”

Nifco, which employs more than 650 people and manufactures car parts of the likes of BMW Mini, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Landrover and Nissan, announced this summer that sales had grown to a record-breaking £71m – a double-digit increase on its performance just three years ago.

Matthews told us: “The outlook for Nifco is extremely positive in terms of sales forecast and growth.

“We have some challenges with nervousness of shareholders when it comes to Brexit.

“But the number one challenge is getting the skills in place to support our growth.”

Click here to see our interview with Matthews.


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