County Durham has emerged as a real ‘land of business opportunity’ in recent years with a fantastic mix of factors that put it at the top of the list for investment and development, access to skilled workers, and partnership working.
With massive amounts of development already planned – and more in the pipeline – Durham County Council’s Business Durham team is ready to provide the support, advice, and know-how to see businesses soar.
With an already vibrant £9 billion economy, 15,000 businesses, 105,000 highly skilled workers, and five high quality universities on the doorstep what’s not to like?
Served by the QS World Top 100, Durham University, along with Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland, and Teesside Universities the region has access to some of the brightest sparks in the UK, providing future talent across a range of disciplines from medicine and engineering to space technology – and beyond…
While the scale of planned activity is huge the breadth of that investment is also impressive, covering established sectors such as Advanced Manufacturing through to a healthy list of emerging contenders including electronics, fintech, space, and satellite applications.
Devolution set to bring growth, investment, and opportunity
There is also the not-so-small matter of a multi-billion-pound devolution deal for the North East which, subject to the outcome of the public consultation, has been agreed by the Government.
A Combined Authority is expected to be created with a Metro Mayor, covering the areas of County Durham, Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, Sunderland, South Tyneside, and Northumberland with a population of around two million people, 25% of that coming from Durham.
The deal could add a potential £4.2 billion into the region’s coffers, create 24,000 jobs and help to leverage £5 billion of private sector investment.
Plans show there will be £1.4 billion in funding for economic growth; £1.8 billion for adult education and skills to improve opportunities for residents; £900million to improve the region’s transport system (in addition to funding already announced) and £69m to unlock sites for new housing, commercial development, and regeneration.
The devolution deal also would bring more autonomy – and the power to make decisions in areas such as transport, skills, housing, finance and economic development.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “Devolution is all about letting leaders who live and breathe the region decide what is in their best interests, for their people and for their businesses.
“A new mayor will ensure local priorities in the North East are at the heart of decision-making, while our billion-pound funding boost will provide the financial certainty needed to level up the area right now and for years to come.”
Public consultation ended in March and a Mayoral election is expected to take place in May 2024.
Home to major names and growing sectors
Anyone choosing to move their business to Durham would be in good company. There are scores of major businesses to rub shoulders with – from rail giants Hitachi and household names like Black & Decker and Caterpillar, to leading Biopharma company GSK.
Train manufacturer, Hitachi Rail, based at Newton Aycliffe builds much of the UK’s rail stock and is developing new battery technologies that will help the UK move towards its Net Zero target of 2050.
GSK continues its research and development of suitable drugs for scores of medical uses saving millions of lives across the globe.
Atom Bank, the first app-based retail bank in the UK designed for access via smartphone or tablet is also based in Durham, and is leading the way in modern working, having been one of the first major UK employers to introduce a four-day working week. It is understood the bank is now preparing to list shares on the Stock Market as a public company.
Sector-leading digital technology company Waterstons is based at Aykley Heads where staff enjoy a culture that reflects the firm’s forward-thinking, future-based ethos in quite simply stunning surroundings.
Thriving visitor economy
It is no surprise that visitors and tourism provide a huge number of jobs and opportunities in the county. An impressive 15.7 million people visited in 2021, spending £827million and supporting more than 10,000 full-time jobs.
In Durham City, where the UNESCO World Heritage site of the 11th/12th Century Durham Cathedral and Castle stand, visitors spent £184.34m.
The Cathedral was used in the filming of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – bringing a new generation of tourists to its cloisters and adding to the 3.32 million people enjoying a staycation.
Thousands of visitors also flock to the multi-award-winning biennial Lumiere – a festival of spectacular light artworks. The festival of illuminations is created by local and internationally-renowned artists with the aim of changing the way familiar buildings and public spaces are viewed.
Kynren – billed as ‘an epic tale of England’ – is an outdoor performance event held near Bishop Auckland that covers two thousand years of history through re-enactment in just 90 minutes. It is a magical journey through rebellions, wars, celebrations, and heartache that attracts family audiences from across the UK.
So whether a business is at the cutting edge of digital innovation, or based on traditional skills as old as the tales in Kynren; whether it’s a start-up or an established long-standing business; whether it’s a major global employer or a family firm, Business Durham has the knowledge, experience, and programmes to help.
With access to funding, premises, and a large network of partners Business Durham will tailor a package so every company based in the county has the opportunity to thrive.