News

City's international links continue to reap rewards

SUNDERLAND'S INTERNATIONAL links and engagement are continuing to bear fruit, with £45m of capital investment and 735 jobs created in the city by overseas companies in the last financial year.

With Sunderland now home to 90 international companies from 20 different territories, employing a total of 26,350 people, economic development continues to be the key driver for the city's international engagement.

The biggest single project of the 15 generating jobs and investment in 2019 was undertaken by French automotive supplier SNOP UK, which is currently constructing a 22,000 sq m building in the city, creating new jobs in addition to those already based here.

Other investments during the year included RWE Npower of Essen, Germany, who created new specialist roles in a new digital customer service wing at its Rainton Bridge campus, while US firm Saggezza announced plans to increase its Sunderland workforce. Swedish owned Walker Filtration, which makes advanced filtration equipment from its base on the Wear Industrial Estate, also saw growth in 2018/19, as did US headquartered hearing aid battery manufacturer Rayovac which installed extra production capacity on its Stephenson Industrial Estate plant as part of a multi million pound investment programme.

Council Leader, Councillor Graeme Miller, said: "Our international links are incredibly important to this city's success.

"For us, economic development is a major priority, supporting companies to survive and thrive in the city, retaining and potentially securing repeat investment from inward investors and supporting local businesses to access overseas markets and grow.

"But our international work isn't just about economic development. Equipping young people with the skills and competences needed by employers in today’s global environment is also important, as is raising their aspirations and knowledge and understanding of other cultures and adding to the city's vibrancy.

"The city's international links are equally important to our partners. The University of Sunderland now has more than 2,000 students studying in Sunderland and 240 in London from over 90 countries, as well as over 6,000 students studying with partners in 14 different countries and 38,722 international alumni across 200 countries worldwide.

"Both they and the football club have continued to develop and broaden Sunderland's international reach during the year.

" And as a city we remain committed to maximising these international links for the benefit for the city, our businesses and our residents."

International work during the last financial year has also seen:

• The fourth Sunderland Shorts Film Festival – inspired by DC Shorts in Washington DC - held in the city centre in May 2018, which attracted over 200 films from 21 countries ahead of the fifth Festival in May of this year.

• The creative partnership with a dance company from Washington DC which led to a series of performances when Sunderland hosted the Tall Ship Races. This included input from several of the city's creative businesses, and provided opportunities for young dance students from the college to work alongside professional dancers from America.

• Young people and staff from 6 Sunderland schools taking part in a range of activities with Saint-Nazaire as part of the EU-funded Erasmus Plus project looking at health and well-being in schools. A visit by senior leaders from six Sunderland schools to Harbin to further develop relationships,project work and plans for pupil visits - with Biddick Academy due to take a group of pupils to Harbin in October 2019.

• Joint work between Washington Old Hall and Tudor Place (the home of George and Martha Washington’s granddaughter) on managing historic properties and developing visitor and education programmes.

• Discussions with the British Embassy in Beijing in January 2019 which identified a new opportunity to secure funding to support learning and co-operation in health between Sunderland and Harbin.

• Sunderland being represented at Essen’s event commemorating 100 years since the end of WWI, alongside leaders from Essen’s other European partner cities, with discussions including opportunities for software and technology business development.

These and other areas of work outlined in the latest International Strategy Annual Report are due to be discussed by the City Council's Cabinet when it meets next week.