Thomas Hurst OBE, Chief Investment Officer, Sunderland City Council.


ECONOMIC and business success in Sunderland has been recognised in HM The Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Sunderland City Council's Head of Automotive, Investment & Business Support, Tom Hurst has been awarded an OBE for services to Local Government and Economic Prosperity through Inward Investment.

Mr Hurst, who joined the council more than 30 years ago and lives in Stockton-on-Tees, said: "I’m very flattered and, naturally, honoured to be awarded this.

"Sunderland has always had a very strong track record in attracting global companies to locate and expand in the city. We’ve continued with that track record and are at the forefront of both job creation and inward investment.

"In achieving and sustaining this strong record, it’s always been a team effort from within the council by officers and councillors, and by working closely with our partners in both the public and private sector."

From a standing start 30 years ago, Sunderland is now one of Europe’s major automotive locations, with around 15,000 people directly employed in the sector in the city and many thousands more in surrounding parts of the region.

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson said: "Tom has played a central role in keeping Sunderland at the forefront of job creation.

"He was part of the team that helped attract Nissan to the region in the 1980s and he’s helped see Sunderland, and indeed the region, grow into a leading automotive centre.

"He’s been and continues to be a key player in the city’s economic resurgence and has worked across many business sectors from offshore and sub-sea, financial and customer services, to software and IT.

"He’s helped forge and steer many economic developments and successes in our city and the North East.

"This a very pleasing recognition for him, and everyone who has worked with him.

"We can all be very proud of the investment that Tom and the business team have brought to Sunderland and our region."

Aside from the automotive sector, there are also other large manufacturers in Sunderland and household names such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems - in 2015 manufacturing accounted for 17 per cent of city jobs, compared to eight per cent nationally.

More than 5,000 people are now employed in Sunderland's technical and digital sector.

In services there are other household names such as Barclays and TSB who have large contact and specialist administration centres, including fraud detection units.

Irene Lucas CBE, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, said: "This is such a well-deserved honour for Tom. There will be many, many people across the region and the UK who will be as delighted as we are to see the fantastic work he has done in economic investment recognised in this way.

"Sunderland continues to score and rank well in attracting business investment and nurturing new talent.

"While we are at the centre of the automotive industry, Tom and his team have also played a central role in the development of other key sectors.

"Tom and his team work tirelessly in nurturing, maintaining and improving business and economic networks. This is a well-deserved thanks and recognition for all their hard work and the contributions they have made to our city and region."

Looking to the future, the City Council is working in partnership with its neighbour South Tyneside to develop the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) on land to the west of the A19 and north of the Nissan site.

This has been classified by the Government as a 'nationally significant' project. It is about attracting more than £300m of investment and 5,200 jobs.