Take a drive around some of the many beautiful rural areas of the County and you’ll be driving past world-leading companies, pretty much on every corner. This is the reality of rural enterprise – all types of businesses are dotted all over rural areas, providing jobs and opportunities to local communities. It’s important to celebrate the diversity of rural enterprises and the contribution they make to the North East economy.
One of the most high profile at the moment is, of course, GSK, which has been located at Barnard Castle for decades and is one of GSK’s biggest secondary manufacturing sites, employing 1,100 people. The site supplies nearly half a million packs of products per day to 140 global markets and GSK has just announced an investment of £92 million to fund the construction of an aseptic sterile facility supporting the manufacture of existing and new biopharmaceutical assets in its pipeline.
Then there is ResQ, the most recent (and one of the largest) inward investment in County Durham, creating 1,200 jobs from its base in Seaham. There is also the cluster of pioneering high technology companies at NETPark in Sedgefield, with Kromek providing peace of mind to people all over the world with its radiation detection products, and PolyPhotonix, which has developed a sleep mask to treat diabetic retinopathy.
And our colleagues at Visit County Durham have pulled together an impressive array of artisan food producers from all over the County, which inspired our Christmas card last year, the “Hamper that Durham Made” and included Durham Gin, Black Paw Brewery, Walkers Crisps and even the fearsomely hot chilli oil from Wiga Wagaa.
We play our part in the growth of the rural economy at Business Durham, managing investment sites and premises across the County and supporting firms and individuals with access to training and development opportunities.
We even have our own centre for rural enterprise, the Durham Dales Centre, which is home to a variety of creative arts and crafts businesses. It’s here that we host a series of workshops which has helped nurture 90 creative start-ups. It’s important for all entrepreneurs to be able to access practical advice on how to run a business, and the Durham Creatives workshops give expert support on finance, marketing, patent protection and selling online.
There are plenty of rural entrepreneurs, risk-takers who are running their own businesses from a base in the countryside and making a huge contribution to the North East economy.
Cities are important generators of economic growth and of course we have Durham City at the heart of the County, along with our close neighbours, Tyneside and Teesside. But perhaps it is that mix of urban and rural activity in close proximity which contributes to the North East’s distinctive character, quietly getting on with the job of making things and selling them all over the world.