THE first tenant has taken up residence at a former smelter site in the county that ceased operation last year.
The Rio Tinto site in Lynemouth has welcomed Aartoft Limited.
The manufacturer of concrete bathroom pods for use in the construction of large buildings such as hotels and student accommodation, is taking approximately 18,000sq ft of space that was previously used as the smelter’s garage facility.
The business normally provides employment for 25 people and is moving from a site in Cramlington where it has been based since 2003.
The move will provide the additional space it requires to potentially double the size of the workforce when the economy eventually turns around.
The arrival of Aartoft is believed to be early evidence that Rio Tinto’s Regional Economic Development (RED) programme will bring new job opportunities to the area.
Niels Sandahl, managing director of Aartoft, said: “This is an outstanding location and we are delighted to be the first tenant.
“It is a secure, controlled environment, with great facilities and transport links.
“What is of real added value to a small company such as ours is that the whole site benefits from the culture that only a multi-national company such as Rio Tinto can bring.”
John McCabe, regional economic development director for Rio Tinto, added: “We are delighted to welcome Aartoft to Lynemouth.
“It is a local company that has worked on some great contracts in the past and, while the construction sector is not without its problems, its management team is very focused and sees the advantages of being based at our site.
“The ultimate aim of the RED programme is to attract new investment and jobs.
“This may involve several businesses taking over some of our buildings or land and using them for different purposes.
“It is essential we attract the right kind of investment.
“We will scrutinise very carefully the expressions of interest we receive because we want to ensure our place is taken at Lynemouth by a business or businesses that share our values and our commitment to the local economic community.
“The site contains a number of buildings that could be put to other uses and it has excellent utility connections and transport infrastructure being so close to two major ports, Newcastle International Airport and the A1.”