County Durham launches high growth manufacturing agenda

A taskforce which was set up to maximise opportunities for County Durham’s manufacturing and engineering industries has developed a high growth programme drawing on best practice from across the UK.

The Manufacturing and Engineering Taskforce (MET) was formed by Durham County Council and Business Durham to maximise opportunities for the county’s economy and capitalise on inward investment successes, such as Hitachi Rail Europe opening its £82m train building facility in September 2016.

The taskforce, comprising public and private sector partners, established a comprehensive list of manufacturing and engineering companies in the region and looked at the issues they faced and how they were doing business.

County Durham manufacturing and engineering businesses:

  • Employ 15% of residents
  • Provide 20% of the county’s gross added value (GVA)
  • Drives a further 15% with its demand for services.

Among the findings were that micro and small businesses needed to embrace innovation to a greater depth and to have better access to supply chains.

Now Business Durham – the economic development company for County Durham, the council and their partners – will drive forward a high growth programme hoping to maximise the sector’s success.

Managing director of Business Durham, Simon Goon explained: “This October we’re celebrating manufacturing month, so it’s great that we’re able to announce the next stage of this important work.

“With the manufacturing and engineering sectors playing such a major role in the county it’s essential that we work together to remove barriers, maximise opportunities and help everyone to benefit from the amazing organisations in County Durham.”

Cabinet member for economic regeneration and chairman of the MET, Councillor Neil Foster commented: “The contribution the manufacturing and engineering sectors make to the County Durham economy is absolutely vital.

“By working together to provide help and support and to encourage growth in these hugely important areas we can not only help to create more jobs but hopefully attract even more investment to the county.”

The MET brought together a range of businesses which identified challenges facing the industries such as skills gaps, securing investment and managing an increasingly complex supply chain.

As well as working to tackle these challenges, Business Durham will also be helping the sectors to share data, best practice and research from across the county, alongside how the firms can raise their profile and attract more investment.

They will also be looking at how the businesses can grow sales, help them to access more supply chains and increase the use of digital technology to improve such things as payroll and accounting as well as logistics.