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Forging more than steel: how SSI's arrival could create thousands of jobs for the future

As the first steel rolled off the Redcar production line, it marked a new era for Redcar and Teesside. But business leaders hope it could herald a new beginning for the whole region.

1,000 steel workers began production on the day that unemployment in the North East fell by 9,000. As SSI expands its operation, it's hoped that figure will fall still further.

But the lasting impact could be greater still.

People who know SSI, in Malaysia and the Far East, will look at their decision to invest strongly in the area. And that will make them think about this part of the world for their investments as well. I hope we will really start to see new business and real excitement in the North East.

– James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive, North East Chamber of Commerce

It's thought the success of Nissan on Wearside encouraged other Japanese firms like Komatsu and Hitachi to set up in the North East. Businesses talk to each other, and so it's hoped SSI's Thai and Malaysian competitors will be impressed enough to consider the region too.

Meanwhile, the benefit closer to home is already being felt. Engineering students at Redcar and Cleveland College say SSI's arrival has made them more optimistic about finding work when they complete their course.

Gary Groom, the college's Principal, says there's real enthusiasm for Teesside's future.

The owner of the burger van at the gates of the plant says Redcar's suffered without the steelworks. Credit: ITV

Closer still, the Mini Chef burger van at the gates of the plant reports that as more steel's produced, so are more bacon butties.

A lot of people have been frightened to spend money. At least we know now that for the next 10 years we're going to have jobs and business around here.

– Kate Owen, Mini Chef burger van

The optimism in Redcar is infectious. If SSI's high profile success convinces other firms that the town and the region are great places to do business, it could soon spread.

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