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Government Minister Brandon Lewis visits region

The North East emerged as one of the top three winners from the government’s local growth deals, with £290m investment to be spent on skills and employment projects, housebuilding and transport links. The top two cities were London and Manchester.

Earlier today Minister for Communities and Local Government, Brandon Lewis MP, visited some of the major regional projects that will be completed as a result of the Local Growth Deal funding.

He started off his visit at Merchant Park in Newton Aycliffe to see progress at the Hitachi Rail project, then discussed the Sunderland Enterprise and Innovation Hub’s Fab Lab with senior representatives from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Sunderland and Sunderland City Council. He ended his visit in Newcastle seeing progress at the Stephenson Quarter and Central Station in the heart of the city.

The North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan has proved to be one of the most successful in achieving significant results for the region. The Local Growth Deal will also provide funding in each of Strategic Economic Plan’s six themes, which are innovation, skills, business support, transport, developing economic assets and supporting inclusive growth.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP said: “The breadth and depth of the Local Growth Deal for the North East means we will create and develop thousands of new jobs, generate major new business investment opportunities and implement a life-changing schools-led model to boost prospects for local students.

“It is exciting that major strategic decisions on long-term economic growth are being made by the people who know the area best, including the dedicated board members and team at the enterprise partnership working with public, private and voluntary sector partners. Experienced, committed local people will direct, manage and deliver these projects to benefit current and future generations.”

The deal includes many of the projects which were submitted to government in the North East Strategic Economic Plan to begin in 2015/16. The enterprise partnership will work with partners to deliver these projects, and continue to progress all aspects of the Strategic Economic Plan to create more and better jobs in the North East.

The Sunderland Fab Lab – digital fabrication laboratory – is the first in the North East. The University of Sunderland will co-locate a Fab Lab with incubation and business unit space to enable ideas trialled and prototyped through Fab Lab to be developed as businesses on site.

At the heart of the Fab Lab is digital manufacturing technology, combining 2D and 3D design with the latest fabrication technology. This is an area in which University of Sunderland is well placed to specialise, as the AMAP team and facilities have provided this kind of support to industry for many years.

Projects in the North East LEP area which will benefit from Local Growth deal funding include Merchant Park 2, Newton Aycliffe, Swans Wet Birth Infill, North Tyneside, the Rural Growth Network Infrastructure, and innovation, skills and transport programmes.

The projects which did not receive funding in this announcement are part of the Strategic Economic Plan to create more and better jobs, and the North East LEP will continue to assist partners with progressing them.