I know we say it each year but....what a year it has been for North East businesses.

Resilience had to be to the fore, as the economy lurched and job-saving decisions had to be made. Throughout it all, the region remained determined to carve out its own future for an innovative generation of young workers hungry for success.

As ever, The Northern Echo and its business arm BUSINESSiQ has stood alongside the decision makers and the apprentices, trying to play our part in highlighting the investment potential here through the Level Up campaign, live events, BUSINESSiQ Awards and now the Business Brew podcast.

  • Which North East business has particularly impressed you this year? Take a few moments to NOMINATE THEM HERE for a Northern Echo BUSINESSiQ Award

Here is just a summary of some of the headlines from the first half of the year that made this region the focus of attention from investors and Government.


While a major refurbishment took place at our old home on Priestgate, Echo editorial and commercial staff moved to new Grade-A town centre offices at Coniscliffe House on Coniscliffe Road, Darlington. 

Troubled electric car battery maker Britishvolt was expected to fall into administration after failing to secure a buyer. The dream of a vast gigafactory to make the batteries in Northumberland looks to be over with nothing to show after promises of thousands of jobs, billions in investment and the backing of the Government as a key route towards Net Zero.

Youngsters looking to build their future careers in the low carbon sector would be given a step up the ladder after 20 paid scholarship opportunities were announced in Redcar. Energy giant bp has teamed up with Redcar and Cleveland College to offer 20 school leavers the chance to earn while they learn on a bespoke two-year engineering programme.

A SAUDI company making a £1billion investment on Teesside has been awarded more than £11million from the Government to push ahead with its plan to produce sustainable aviation fuel. The alfanar group's Lighthouse Green Fuels Project will be based at the former Air Products site at Port Clarence.

The Northern Echo: The Port Clarence siteThe Port Clarence site (Image: Press release)

Decision-makers from across the North East were brought together by the Northern Echo's Level Up campaign to share their experience on investment strategies and discuss one of the most important investment decisions the region has ever made - the LA7 devolution deal. They met at the Thorn Lighting base in Spennymoor for the campaign's first live event of 2023.



More than 200 jobs are to be created at a new high-tech science and engineering facility in Newcastle. Defence and security firm Leonardo has announced that it is investing in the new base on Newcastle Helix and expects to generate more than £185million of economic benefit in the region.

Planning permission has been granted for a new plastics recycling plant in Sunderland – creating more than 300 jobs. Quantafuel Sunderland will take mixed plastic waste from across the north of England that would otherwise have been incinerated or disposed of in landfill.

The first images have been revealed of a ground-breaking new factory to be built on Teesside. Circular Fuels Ltd have lined up a cutting-edge fuel-from-waste facility for land at Dorman Point – with 250 construction jobs and more than 50 skilled roles in the offing.

The Northern Echo: The Circular Fuels siteThe Circular Fuels site (Image: Press release)


A £3billion plan has been drawn up to secure the future of a North Yorkshire mining project, protecting more than 1,600 jobs. Global mining company Anglo American has already started pushing ahead with a new strategy for the Woodsmith polyhalite fertiliser mine near Sneaton, south of Whitby.

A major construction firm behind multi-million-pound projects across the North East has entered administration with staff immediately let go. Building firm Tolent officially called in administrators following a weekend of uncertainty over the company’s future.

Officials have recommended a cutting-edge aircraft maintenance facility gets the go-ahead, bringing the hope of hundreds of jobs at Teesside International Airport. Darlington Borough Council Planning Committee will vote on plans for a Jet Centre and Aviation Village led by Willis Lease Finance Corporation (WLFC) and its subsidiary, Willis Aviation Services Limited (WASL). 



A new park and ride scheme to serve thousands of Teesside workers has been given the go-ahead. The 35-acre site, located at Teesworks near the former SSI Steel House, Redcar, will provide parking for more than 1,500 vehicles.

The Northern Echo’s Level Up campaign held its latest live event, discussing jobs, skills and education, hosted by believe housing. The event started with our exclusive interview with Patrick Melia, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council.

International audit, financial advisory and tax firm Deloitte has announced it is set to establish a new office in the Tees Valley, set to employ up to 200 people. Stephen Hall, Deloitte’s Senior Partner in its Newcastle base, said the firm was intending to ramp up recruitment in the area, where it currently has around 30 staff.



The future of the famous Black Sheep Brewery looks increasingly in doubt after a search for a new owner or partner to help turn around the business failed.

The Northern Echo: Charlene Lyons at the Black Sheep BreweryCharlene Lyons at the Black Sheep Brewery (Image: Press release)

An Arlington Real Estate and Richardson joint venture to develop Durham's Milburngate scheme  has said it remains committed to delivering it following the collapse of the building contractor Tolent who were working on the site.

The developers behind a vast film-making complex in Sunderland say their plans will make the region 'a production powerhouse' for TV and film. Fulwell 73 Productions plans for a Crown Works Studios in Sunderland will create over 8,500 regional jobs and generate over £2billion of economic value for the North East in its first decade of operation.

The very best North East business - and the amazing people who lead them - had a fantastic celebration at Ramside Hall for the inaugural BUSINESSiQ Awards.The Northern Echo: Sara Davies at the BUSINESSiQ AwardsSara Davies at the BUSINESSiQ Awards (Image: Newsquest)Among the top awards, tech experts razorblue won Business of the Year and Wilton Group legend Bill Scott was named Inspirational Leader of the Year.


Theakston raised a pint in celebration of its seventh coronation with the launch of a special edition beer, brewed in honour of His Royal Highness King Charles III. Crowning Glory, a 4.2% ABV gold beer has been crafted using Britain’s finest Pale and Crystal malt.


The Black Sheep brewery in Masham has a new owner - ending weeks of speculation about its future - as it was confirmed that London-based investor Breal Group had taken over.

Developers of a controversial retail and leisure destination in North Yorkshire say their plans have been delayed - and the earliest the site will open is now September 2024. A spokesperson for the Scotch Corner Designer Village said the plans were "all going really well".

The Hartlepool Development Corporation Board has unanimously agreed the masterplan to supercharge regeneration in the town at its second meeting. The plan is focused on accelerating Hartlepool by maximising the potential of its maritime past, manufacturing present and creative future.

A significant anniversary for Darlington - one hundred days since the formation of the Department for Business and Trade, which is a pivotal part of the Darlington Economic Campus.

Redcar and Cleveland College opened the doors to a new Clean Energy Education Hub as part of a £6.5m investment in college facilities. Made possible by the Redcar Town Deal investment plan, the new £3.2m training centre will focus on giving people the skills to meet the demands of Teesside’s growing renewable and low carbon sector.

An extraordinary breakthrough has been made among the hills of Weardale that could have long-reaching implications for Teesside as a centre of energy technology. For the first time, lithium carbonate has been produced from geothermal brines at a County Durham site.

A fast-growing national managed IT service provider based in Teesside has become the latest partner in the Northern Echo’s Level Up campaign. razorblue  specialises in managed IT, cybersecurity services, super-fast connectivity, cloud, and business applications across a broad range of industries.

The Northern Echo: Mark Wilkinson and Dan Kitchen of razorblueMark Wilkinson and Dan Kitchen of razorblue (Image: Newsquest)



The Nissan team at Sunderland reached an amazing landmark moment. The North East workforce is celebrating building its 11 millionth vehicle since production started in 1986.

The company behind the £450m SeAH Wind project at Teesworks put down its Teesside roots with a new North East base. K2 Construction Management started work in the region less than 12 months ago as they deliver the SeAH site.

Talks have started over plans for a new luxury hotel in the heart of Newcastle’s Quayside area. The move sees a proposal by Dakota Hotels to convert the former Womble Bond Dickinson offices at St Ann’s Wharf at 112 Quayside into a boutique-style 115 bedroomed hotel.

A major development to breathe new life into the oldest part of Middlesbrough and retain hundreds of key jobs has reached a significant milestone with construction work now complete on the landmark Boho X office accommodation in St Hilda’s – which will boost Middlesbrough’s thriving community of digital and creative businesses.

The Northern Echo: Celebrations at BohoCelebrations at Boho (Image: Press release)

Business leaders from across the North East have been given an exclusive insight into the tech-led future of the region at a live event in Newcastle. The event was part of the Level Up campaign run by the Northern Echo's business brand, BUSINESSiQ and was held at the Spark offices of transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson.