Hodgson named LEP chair

Hodgson named LEP chair

Andrew Hodgson, chief executive of Tyneside-based Soil Machine Dynamics Limited (SMD), has been appointed the new chair of the North East LEP.

Hodgson was elected chair at the LEP board meeting to succeed Paul Woolston, who stood down after five years at the helm of the organisation.

He will bring a wealth of experience to the role – having been a recipient of three Queen’s Awards for Industry for the subsea engineering sector.

Hodgson is also a former North East Business Executive of the Year, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, EEF’s UK Manufacturing Champion and was awarded an OBE for his work in manufacturing and the North East economy.

He said: “It is a privilege to have the opportunity as the new North East LEP chair to work with the public and private sectors to help grow the regional economy.

“The foundations are in place for this growth to continue thanks to the work of Paul Woolston and the team at the LEP in securing £1.5bn in funding to fuel new business growth and job creation.

“With all the opportunities that the devolution of powers from central Government will present the North East economy, we face a once in a generation opportunity to really transform our region.

“We must also ensure that the current momentum is not lost as we establish what devolution means to us.

“I’ve spent my career growing world class businesses both here in the North East and internationally. I will use my knowledge and that of the LEP board to create more and better jobs.

“We will make investments into the regional economy that will stimulate growth and allow us to seize these new opportunities.”

Cllr Simon Henig, chair of the North East Combined Authority and leader of Durham County Council, welcomed the news.

He added: “Paul Woolston has created a strong foundation for the North East economy to grow and I wholeheartedly support Andrew’s appointment to lead the LEP through the next phase. 

“He has a deep understanding of the North East LEP from his time as vice-chair and is ideally placed to take the organisation forward.”