Exclusive: Why Tees industry can go back to the future

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

By Joanne Barrett

Using our history to drive our future was the message delivered by some of Teesside’s leading business voices.

And working together to cement the cornerstones of success will be the key.

More the 100 representatives from all sectors of industry across the Tees Valley and the North East gathered at the Tees Business Leaders event held at the Wilton Centre recently where they heard from a specially assembled panel.

Hosted by petrochemicals giant SABIC to celebrate the launch of the summer issue of Tees Business, Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen joined PD Ports chief Frans Calje, SembCorp’s Nomi Ahmad, Sharon Lane from Tees Components and SABIC’s Daren Smith to discuss Teesside’s business outlook.

One of the key messages delivered by the panel was just how much Teesside already has in terms of infrastructure, its wealth of expertise and the potential to launch world class projects that could futureproof the region’s economy for decades to come.

Singapore company SembCorp provides essential utilities to sites across the world, including the giant Wilton International site, near Redcar.

It took over the utilities side of what used to be ICI in 2003 and recently received Government approval to construct a 1.7GW gas-fired power plant on Teesside.

“Our business is very much serving the manufacturers based here,” said Mr Ahmad.

“We see ourselves as a hemisphere with our customers, the eco system goes back to the times of ICI.

“Looking forward, this region has a lot going for it in terms of why people should come and invest here. It is a great location, we’ve got a deep water harbour, we’ve got great communication and an ecosystem of qualified personnel.

“I’d say to anybody coming to invest, we have the ability to provide those essential utilities so you can focus on your core business.“

PD Ports chief Mr Calje agreed. “If we compare ourselves to any other site in the UK in terms of infrastructure and essential utilities, no other site in the UK can do what we can do,” he said.

“If that’s not something we can be proud and confident about, we don’t know what is.

“If you talk about the success of Teesside as a region, it all has to do with the quality we have got. We have the capacity to join up as a manufacturing base, the capability to generate electricity and one of the deepest rivers and the biggest ports in Britain right on our doorstep.”

Offshore wind and the potential to develop a leading industry hub on Teesside is something Mayor Houchen is keen to see.

Investors, he said, can see what Teesside already has to offer.

“We can turn around and say we have got that skills base, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he said.

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