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Bold new vision for County Durham’s economy officially adopted

Dec 15, 2022 | Local News

A bold and ambitious new strategy that will shape County Durham’s economy over the next decade and beyond has been officially adopted by the county council.

The County Durham Inclusive Economic Strategy sets a clear, long-term vision for the area’s economy up to 2035, with an overarching aim to create more and better jobs in an inclusive, green economy.

This week, members of Durham County Council’s Cabinet agreed to formally adopt the document, which has been developed through County Durham Economic Partnership (CDEP).

Glyn Llewellyn, Chair of the CDEP, said: “The Economic Strategy will help deliver a prosperous future for the people of County Durham and a future for generations to come where anything is possible.

“Now we have the strategy in place, we need everyone to work together to deliver it – from SMEs to large companies with investments in the area, everyone needs to play their part in ensuring it achieves its aims.”

The vision, priorities and areas of focus within the strategy have been shaped by an Economic Statement which establishes the state of the county’s economy today and the opportunities and challenges for the future.

The statement shows that County Durham has a strong and diverse economy worth £8.8 billion, with 14,000 businesses and significant strengths in advanced manufacturing and health and life sciences. However, it also highlights that between 2006 and 2020, the economy grew by only 26.8 per cent compared to a national figure of 49.8 per cent.

The Inclusive Economic Strategy seeks to overcome barriers in order to transform levels of growth and harness the county’s potential, with all partners actively working towards this shared vision.

The strategy has also been informed by feedback from residents, businesses and young people gathered during the Big Econ-versation, an extensive stakeholder engagement process which took place between February and April this year. This feedback was fed into the strategy during a series of workshops which were followed by a second, targeted phase of engagement.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “The Inclusive Economic Strategy is deliberately ambitious. It is bold, but it is also deliverable.

“We know that there will be challenges over the coming months and years, particularly with the current financial pressures we are all facing. However, the strategy looks at how we respond to the immediate challenges in front of us, as well as having a longer-term focus on the future and how we can build a stronger County Durham for generations to come.

“It is crucial that the strategy is adopted as a joint, agreed vision for everyone and our whole county. While the council will be one of the key drivers behind the strategy and its delivery, this document does not belong to us. The strategy was developed in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders, and it is important that it is taken forward as something that belongs to everyone. We need all our partners and anchor institutions working together to achieve our shared vision.”

The vision within the strategy is built on five key areas:

  • People – supporting people into education, training and jobs and enabling them to excel in their careers and in business.
  • Productivity – supporting business innovation, growth and higher levels of productivity.
  • Places – improving places and planning infrastructure so that people and businesses can access opportunities.
  • Promotion – promoting the county, its assets and opportunities to businesses, investors, visitors, developers and residents.
  • Planet – investing in people, technologies, research, development and businesses in order to help achieve net zero emissions in County Durham by 2045.

Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “We share Durham County Council’s commitment to driving economic growth that benefits communities across our county.

“The partnership between the council and the university offers us the opportunity to leverage the scale, capability and capacity of our organisations and associated partnerships to make a real, positive difference in the county and on the global stage.”

A detailed Delivery Plan will now be developed by the CDEP, which includes partners from the private, charity and community sector, giving stakeholders another chance to help shape and deliver the strategy.

The Delivery Plan will be reviewed regularly so that it can respond to economic changes and to allow priorities to be reassessed and reset. This will ensure the strategy is a live document that can drive growth and aspirations for the county throughout its lifespan, while also offering a targeted response to the current cost of living crisis.

The Inclusive Economic Strategy will be published in early 2023 with the Delivery Plan following in the autumn.