Bob Cuffe talks about his love of Teesside in this weeks #Janesblog.
It’s been fantastic to see the We Are Middlesbrough campaign on the BBC lead by our own Steph McGovern- very positive national coverage of our area and featuring inspiring leaders from Thorpe Mackenzie to Sharon Lane, Jessica Williams and Clare Preston.
I describe myself as a Teessider but optimistic – I grew up in Redcar many years ago hearing about how things were better in the past, and as we saw the demise of our traditional employers the view that ‘there’s no jobs in Teesside’ became common currency. Throughout my working life too many Teessiders – including some of our political leaders have continued to feed the gloom.
The British Steel shock is a horrible blow – the Teesside operation being a very successful business absolutely rooted in our region- and I’m encouraged by the quick and vocal determination of Ben Houchen and others to attempt our best outcome here.
Despite this event I remain optimistic and excited about Teesside’s opportunities. The business community here shares this view – Teesside is fortunate to have great businesses able to compete globally and lead by people with great values and who care about future generations- alongside those already mentioned I’d example Bill Scott OBE, Gary Dawson, and Frans Kalje.
Teesside businesses collaborate- a lesson for our politicians here – and as Bob Mortimer ( my favourite Teessider puts it) we look after our kith and kin.
We have a business facing Tees Valley Mayor who is giving positive leadership at a critical time. We have Europe’s largest regeneration project – the South Tees site – on his watch (declaration of interest in that I’m on the STDC board) and an ambition of over 20,000 jobs on that site. We have an ambitious Middlesbrough Mayor newly elected in Andy Preston and we look to both to include all the talents to support their plans.
I’d also point to our University under the leadership of Paul Croney – making huge progress up all the league tables and setting a standard we all should admire.
The Teesside tech community is inspiring and growing at an impressive rate.
Alongside the leaders we have the Teesside public – honest, hardworking, loyal and with the best sense of humour I’ve ever encountered- but I am biased.
I sense more of us are starting to believe in Teesside – evidence being the huge public and business support for the Airport – if we don’t believe in ourselves how will we persuade people to stay here, invest here and study here?
My hope – and belief – is that more and more of us in the future describe ourselves as optimistic Teessiders- even though we all know it’s going to rain at the weekend!