A PROJECT to drive business and investment in the North East has been hailed a success.
North East Enterprise Zones were created to support economic growth by developing sites with key attributes to help businesses start-up, grow and expand.
Since their initial launch in 2012, the sites have attracted businesses and investors keen to take advantage of the generous financial incentives on offer, as well as the strategic locations available for development.
Now five years on, the latest figures show the zones have already created 1318 jobs across the 46 businesses that located to them.
In total, the 12 Enterprise Zones brought over £36m of investment to the North East.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership secured the Enterprise Zones for the region and supported infrastructure work, including roads and utilities, for the sites.
Executive director, Helen Golightly, said: “We are delighted with the success of the North East Enterprise Zones.
“All of our Enterprise Zones are in key locations, so whether it’s adjacent to a major trunk road like the A19 or A1 or whether it’s next to a major cluster of activity, they’re all strategically positioned.
“They’re clustered around our areas of opportunity, for example automotive or offshore. They’re next to the areas that we really feel are going to thrive.
“The zones are all at different stages but we have high hopes for the future. We have these fantastic sites and we’re investing a lot in them to get them ready.”
One such success is Neptune Yard in Newcastle, once a centre of shipbuilding on the River Tyne but now home to a new generation of thriving industry.
Part of the North Bank of the Tyne Enterprise Zone, the historic site is now leading the way in offshore wind and renewables.
The revitalised site has created 485 jobs and attracted over £40m of investment.
Businesses located at Neptune Yard include global companies Shepherd Offshore; GE Oil & Gas; Bridon International; IHC FHP; and JDR Cables.
Newcastle University has also established Tyne Subsea, a hub for hyperbaric research, test and certification.
Demand for the site is so high plans are in place to extend to create more space with the North Bank of the Tyne Extension project.
The North Bank of the Tyne Enterprise Zone includes the Port of Tyne, the former Swan Hunter ship yard and the former Neptune Shipyard.
The cluster of sites in the North Bank of the Tyne Zone is a primary location for the offshore, subsea and energy sectors.
The Enterprise Zones also offer simplified planning procedures, access to some of the best development land in the North East, as well as business-specific benefits.
Through Business Rate Discount, businesses can gain up to 100% discount against business rates worth up to £275,000 over a five year period from occupying the premises on the Enterprise Zone site. This is equivalent to £55,000 per year but does not need to be taken as an even annual split.
Alternatively, through the Enhanced Capital Allowance, business can receive up to 100% capital allowance for investment in plant and equipment on the Enterprise Zone site. This can represent tax relief worth up to £125m.
But it is the strategic locations of the zones that businesses can most benefit from.
Helen said: “All of the business in our Enterprise Zones benefit from being ideally positioned in a strategic location within a cluster of companies working in key areas of opportunity.
“Businesses can be part of the supply chain and work with each other. This approach has really worked very well.
“If you look at Neptune, they’ve now got global companies that have located there. It’s all about working with the investors and building links.
“We think the North East Enterprise Zones have huge potential. With over 1300 full-time jobs and £36m of investment already in our Enterprise Zones, the figures really do speak for themselves.”