THE resurgence of North- East manufacturing continued last night as an enginemaker became the latest firm in the region to win a jobboosting order from overseas.
The Northern Echo also understands that another major announcement is imminent that could see hundreds of jobs created in south Durham.
Demand from the emerging economic powerhouses of Brazil and China for British engineering know-how will create 120 positions at Cummins Engines factory, in Darlington, which is regarded as one of the jewels in the crown of North-East industry.
During a remarkable ten days for the region, Cummins has joined the businesses rising to Prime Minister David Cameron’s challenge for North-East companies to rebalance an economy that had become over-reliant on public sector jobs.
Engineers Amec, which has its industrial headquarters in Darlington, this week reported profits were up 30 per cent and orders had risen by a quarter on last year.
On Wednesday, the Government gave Hitachi the goahead to build a new generation of express trains at Newton Aycliffe, bringing a £4.5bn investment, 500 direct jobs and thousands more in the supply chain.
And the deal for Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) to take over the Teesside Cast Products plant at Redcar, last month secured the jobs of 700 workers, and paved the way for about 800 jobs to be created.
Cummins will shortly begin recruiting staff on temporary contracts, which could lead to permanent work, to help make 7,000 engines for delivery trucks in Brazil and construction vehicles in China.
Two years ago, Cummins shed more than 400 jobs as demand was hit by the global recession.
But the worldwide reputation of its staff, and investment to turn the Darlington plant into a hub of lowcarbon engine technology, has helped to turn around the firm’s fortunes.
Cummins recently won a contract to supply environmentally- friendly engines and exhausts for London’s new Routemaster buses, one of the flagship contracts backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the confirmation that more jobs were heading to the region, and explained why he believes manufacturing is leading the recovery.
“Cummins is a world-class company and has exactly the type of specialist skills that emerging economies are crying out for,” he said.
“Whereas other parts of the UK have all but lost their traditional skills, the North-East is blessed with a cluster of high-class manufacturing and engineering companies that can make things for the rest of the world.
“We are grabbing business from economies which are growing more quickly than our own, and that is helping to lead the recovery in the North-East.”
Darlington Borough Council leader John Williams said: “Following on from this week’s great news on Hitachi, these new jobs are great news for Darlington.
“Cummins is one of the jewels in the crown of Darlington’s economy and the firstclass management and staff continue to deliver manufacturing excellence. The council is delighted by the news.”
Britain’s manufacturers reported record growth rates last month as demand strengthened at home and abroad and more companies said they planned to hire new staff.
The monthly industry survey from Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply is at its highest level since the index began in 1992.
“Strong growth in demand across the manufacturing sector continued to put breath in the sails of the UK economy in February,” said the Cips chief executive, David Noble.
Councillor Alan Coultas, a professional engineer and Darlington Conservative spokesman on the economy, said: “Cummins is one of the largest manufacturers in the town and a world-class company.
“They are an example of what can be done in Darlington.
We need more manufacturing jobs in the town.”
Noting that 7.7 per cent of the town’s population was employed in the manufacturing sector, he said: “It is very important – just as the county needs to rebalance those figures, Darlington needs to as well.
“The economy in Darlington has been taken into somewhat of a vulnerable place and too dependent on public sector, distribution and hotels and pubs jobs.”
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said: “It’s tremendous news.
“It’s a boost for the region’s economy and a vote of confidence in the skills force we have in Darlington.
“These are quality jobs. I’m very pleased that there is a regional expertise in manufacturing and companies are prepared to invest in that.”