Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Europe, part of a global Fortune 500 corporation founded in 1615, is the first tenant to sign up for a new business unit at Jade Business Park in Durham.

Jade Business Park, which is now under construction, is a 55 acre employment site just moments from the A19 and Dalton Park on the outskirts of Murton, and is set to provide over 1 million sq ft of new employment space and over 2,500 jobs. The park is owned by Durham County Council which is also funding its first phase of development.

Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Europe (SEWS-E) is expanding to locate at Jade Park.  The international company produces and distributes automotive wiring harnesses, fuse boxes, connectors, and cables throughout Europe.

With a turnover in excess of €700m and over 20,000 employees in Europe, SEWS-E is part of the Sumitomo family of companies which was founded in Japan over 400 years ago and now operates in 65 countries.

SEWS-E’s unit will be part of the first phase of Jade Park, construction of which began this month after planning permission was granted earlier this year. Phase one is due to complete in summer next year and will deliver a total of seven new industrial units, equivalent to 155,000 sq ft of new space for distribution, technology, and advanced manufacturing businesses.

The site will be managed by Business Durham, the economic development arm of the council. The project is being delivered in partnership with Highbridge Developments, the company behind the UK’s largest office park, Cobalt, in North Tyneside.

Peter McDowell, property and business services director at Business Durham, said: “It’s fantastic to see such a high profile and successful business take the first lease at Jade Business Park. The site’s location makes it the perfect base for companies involved in the automotive construction supply chain like Sumitomo.

“With further speculative units available at Jade Park, this is a very promising and exciting start. Business Durham is thrilled to be able to offer such fantastic employment space to businesses within Durham and further afield.”

Guy Marsden, director at Highbridge Properties PLC, said: “We are delighted to be developing this first phase of speculative development of 155,000 sq ft and to have secured Sumitomo Electric as our first occupier, prior to practical completion.  The site, spanning 55 acres, can accommodate a wide range of uses and we look forward to making further exciting announcements at Jade Business Park in the near future.”

Cllr Alan Napier, deputy leader of the council and its Cabinet member for finance, said: “We are really pleased to announce Jade Business Park’s first tenant; this is the culmination of a tremendous effort from us and a significant moment for the site. Jade will ultimately deliver thousands of jobs and be worth tens of millions of pounds for our economy.

“The fact that such a massive global company has chosen to come here is a real vote of confidence in County Durham as a place to do business and we look forward to welcoming Sumitomo and the firms which will follow.”

Minister of State for Local Growth, the Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, said: “We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the Northern Powerhouse and the whole of the UK as we work to level up our regions.

“I’m delighted Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Europe is the first business to make Jade Business Park its new base, it is a sign of the confidence companies have in the North East and UK economy.

“Through investments like this £4.2 million from the Local Growth Fund, and others across the Northern Powerhouse, we are ensuring that every community has the support it needs to flourish as we leave the EU on 31 October.”

Jade Business Park, which is a former colliery and cokeworks, is a designated Enterprise Zone. The development has been made possible with almost £14m of funding for highway and infrastructure works from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) and the Highways Agency. It will help fund a programme of works to increase the capacity of the A19/A182 junctions serving the business park, which will allow for future growth.

The project received funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the NELEP. The Local Growth Fund is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.

Helen Golightly, chief executive at the North East LEP, said: “Jade Business Park offers some fantastic opportunities for both local and inward investors and it’s really encouraging that SEWS-E has chosen this Enterprise Zone for its expansion. Being located directly off the A19 is an attractive proposition and we look forward to welcoming more high-value manufacturing businesses as the site progresses.”