MORE than 100 delegates from business, finance, government and education attended a key Levelling Up conference in Middlesbrough this week.

Delegates had an opportunity to connect, learn and see first-hand, the investment and growth opportunities in Teesside, with Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen giving the keynote speech at the inaugural Deloitte event.

The Levelling Up: Making it happen conference opened with Deloitte’s practice senior partner, Stuart Cottee, talking about his passion for the region: “This region holds a special place in my heart – I was born and bred in County Durham and I’ve raised my six children here.

Read more: Freeport boss talks about his goals and inspiration

“Levelling up is important to me personally – I want my children and grandchildren to have equal career and education opportunities. But levelling up is just as important to Deloitte and its region’s business – over 50% of our people and partners are based outside London.

“I want to see this region thrive - we have a once in a generation opportunity and we all have a duty to make this happen.”

Delegates were taken on a site visit to Teesworks, the UK’s largest Freeport. It’s a diverse, multi-sector setting, bringing together industries such as such as wind, green energy, hydrogen and life sciences.

The site itself offers immediate connectivity to Teesport, the North Sea and Europe, unlocking important global markets for sustainable innovators and global pioneers.

Alongside Teesport and Redcar Bulk Terminal, an all-new 1km quay will be built at South Bank, designed to focus on serving the offshore energy sector amongst other opportunities.

As part of the Teesside Freeport, Teesworks is at the centre of the UK’s largest tariff free customs zone.

This offers many advantages to businesses, including a package of tax relief to help drive jobs, investment and growth, streamlined planning processes and simplified customs procedures.

Ben Houchen said: “I was delighted to host Deloitte and dozens of delegates to Teesworks, so they could all see how we are driving forward the cleaner, safer and healthier industries of the future, and learn how they could all play their part.

“Thanks to Teesworks and the Teesside Freeport helping pioneer low-carbon advances, plus the Darlington Economic Campus, we’re now at a moment of unprecedented opportunity.

“That’s not just for inward investment, influence and innovation but for our brilliant supply chain businesses and partners right across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”

There were a number of breakout sessions for discussion and challenge covering - the Freeport and Teesworks; the Darlington Economic Campus; unlocking net zero opportunities to accelerate business growth; place-shaping; finance and attracting private sector investment; and achieving economic success through talent and skills.

Ben Houchen added: “The event really showed how we can work together to unlock the potential across our region, giving local people the skills they need to succeed, creating good-quality, well-paid jobs and showing that they don’t need to leave the area for a brilliant career.”


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