By Simon Henig

ANYONE passing through Durham City cannot fail to notice the huge tower crane now located on the Milburngate site.

The crane’s arrival marks the start of phase one of a development that will bring substantial employment opportunities to the county.

Milburngate is one of a number of projects starting to come to fruition that will eventually lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs for County Durham.

And this has not happened by chance. Since the formation of the unitary council just over a decade ago, one of our key priorities has been to attract both public and private sector investment in order to boost our economy and bring more and better jobs to County Durham. Our success is evidenced by the fact that there are now about 10,000 more jobs than in 2010.

At 74 per cent, the employment rate is also at its highest since 2004 and is above the regional average and on a par with the national rate.

And we believe this situation will only get better. With an expected £3.4bn of investment set for the county over the next ten years, we are confident that by 2035 we will see an extra 30,000 jobs across County Durham.

Wherever you live or work in the county, you don’t need to look far to see examples of our ongoing commitment to promoting the area as a great place to invest.

Software firm Intelligence Fusion, for example, is planning to more than double its current workforce of 10 staff after relocating to larger offices at Aykley Heads Business Centre. We have also recently seen waste management company Biffa establish a new plastics recycling plant in Dawdon, recruiting for 100 full-time jobs.

And Sumitono Wiring Systems will soon become the first tenants at Jade Business Business Park, bringing 76 jobs to the flagship 55-acre enterprise zone close to the A19.

Over the past ten months, we’ve also invested more than £500,000 in supporting small to medium-sized businesses accelerate their growth through the County Durham Growth Fund, overseen by Business Durham, the county council’s economic development arm.

This investment will enable Bignall Group, Dyer Engineering and Design X-Press to create more than 60 new jobs between them.

While it’s true that County Durham has been hit hard by austerity over the past decade, our pledge to bring investment to our area has never wavered despite the financial pressures we have faced. It is really positive news that we are now seeing that commitment paying off across the county.

  • Simon Henig is leader of Durham County Council