Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has hosted Barclays Bank’s Group Chief Executive and its Head of Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics for a tour of the Teesside Freeport, the UK’s first and largest Freeport.
He welcomed CEO C.S. Venkatakrishnan (known as Venkat) and Lee Collinson, who is leading Barclays’ work to showcase Freeport benefits to clients, on a tour of the Teesworks site, which sits at the heart of the region’s Freeport.
The Mayor highlighted all of the opportunities the Freeport is bringing not just at Teesworks but right across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, including the most recent investment from SeAH Wind Ltd for its 90-acre £200million-£300million offshore wind monopile production facility. The visit also included a presentation by Freeport Director Nolan Gray.
Barclays has a long history of supporting innovation in the region, with one of its principal establishing partners, Darlington-based James Backhouse, being involved in the financing of the Stockton and Darlington Railway which opened in 1825. The firm is also supporting a film production to celebrate the railway’s bicentenary in 2025.
It is now looking to the future by backing the Government’s Freeport initiative by originating anticipated future funding opportunities and hosting a range of client events throughout the year to highlight the advantages of Freeports, such as their wide package of tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures and streamlined planning processes.
Mayor Houchen said: “It was an honour to welcome Venkat and Lee to Teesworks to show them first-hand how we’re leading the UK with our Freeport, demonstrating how it is playing a key role in our net zero ambitions and in welcoming industries of the future to Teesside. It’s incredibly encouraging to learn about all that Barclays is doing to raise awareness of Freeports and their benefits with its clients and I’m certain we will continue to work together to maximise the potential of the Teesside Freeport.
“This is just the latest high-profile visit to the Freeport and Teesworks after we greeted the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, MPs and other business leaders, such as bp’s global CEO Bernard Looney. There’s certainly more to come as we continue to grab opportunities with both hands to transform not just Teesworks, but all of our Freeport sites, ultimately creating thousands of good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people.
“2022 is the year of construction across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and our Freeport is central to that. We’re pushing forward with developments that are taking shape right here, right now to encourage even more investment in the future.”
Barclays Group Chief Executive, C.S. Venkatakrishnan said: “As the first bank to engage with the Teesside Freeport prior to their formal launch, it was really exciting to be on site today to see the significant opportunities that are taking shape here in clean energy, advanced manufacturing and offshore wind, especially for early-stage and high growth businesses, creating thousands of jobs and investment in the region.
“We learned a lot from Ben today, especially how the Freeport could help develop new green technologies and projects that build low-carbon energy capability, and support equitable and sustainable economic growth – a priority for Barclays.
“Some of our clients are already engaged in the redevelopment of the site. We are working closely with Nolan and his team to explore the right opportunities for our clients, and to support this ambitious programme as it develops.”