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‘Businesses see what’s happening here and want to be part of it’

Middlesbrough was named as one of the best small cities in Europe by the Financial Times. The town was ranked joint third in the small city category for its foreign direct investment strategy by fDi Intelligence.

Middlesbrough Council’s Strategic Business Manager Debbie Ingoldsby explains how companies are tempted to the town and get dedicated support once they’re here.

A big part of my job is putting Middlesbrough on the map.

We promote all the benefits the town has to offer and put together bespoke packages for firms considering setting up home here.

Businesses that are making major investment decisions want to deal with as few barriers as possible.

We work alongside partners like the Tees Valley Combined Authority to remove those barriers and make the decision as simple as it can be.

For businesses, a fast response is crucial. The feedback we get tells us that our initial reply to inquiries helps put Middlesbrough at the forefront of people’s minds.

We have a great advantage at the moment because of the momentum that’s building up around Middlesbrough.

Businesses are seeing what’s happening here and want to be a part of it.

What makes our fDi rating so satisfying this time around is that we’ve been able to demonstrate the progress we’re making with tangible evidence.

In 2018 we were ranked the 9th best small city in Europe for our strategy. Our submission back then was very much about our vision. In 2022 we’re up to third place and can show how big projects and the business support infrastructure are helping to regenerate the town.

The vision is becoming a reality.

Whether it’s the success of the manufacturing park TeesAMP or the way that digital firms in and around Boho are growing and growing, we can point towards the fact that Middlesbrough is a great place to do business.

Debbie Ingoldsby

Debbie Ingoldsby, strategic business manager at Middlesbrough Council

Things are coming to fruition and we have a track record of delivery. We’re pulling in more investment from outside the area – it’s not just a movement of businesses that were already based here. We’re seeing genuine inward investment and foreign direct investment.

We’ve had significant wins in recent times in varied sectors. Manufacturing giant Paralloy has based its company Firth Vickers Engineering at TeesAMP and customer services firm Echo U Ltd has expanded here from its Newcastle HQ. Offices on Centre Square are filling up and the Boho X project is changing the town’s skyline.

TeesAMP, on the banks of the River Tees

TeesAMP, on the banks of the River Tees

The scale and specialisms of the companies we deal with varies so much.

Some need help with capital grants. Others have specific recruitment needs. We can hold the hands of businesses and support them all the way whether it be through a grant process, getting them a presence at a job fair or linking closely with our rates team. Our role is about so much more than identifying premises.

Underpinning everything we do are our wider aims for Middlesbrough. We want to create opportunities. We want to have the jobs here that people can base their futures on.

Being in the thoughts of companies that we wouldn’t have dared dream of at one stage certainly helps us to that.

When I reflect on the companies that I have supported in some way and see they are creating jobs, growing and feel pride in Middlesbrough, that gives me an enormous sense of satisfaction that we’re doing the right thing.

We’re with them every step of the way.