It is one year since the Michelin tyre factory in Dundee closed and the final workers left to bagpipes and applause.
The emotional moment marked the end of the chapter of almost 50 years of tyre production.
But it’s not the end of the industrial story for the 32 hectare Baldovie site.
The site is now Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP). Its aim – to bring high calibre companies working in sustainable transport and mobility to Dundee to replace the 850 jobs lost.
What has MSIP achieved in the past year?
Greig Coull was announced as chief executive of MSIP the day after the tyre factory closed.
He inherited a £60 million commitment from partners Michelin, Scottish Enterprise and Dundee City Council.
He also had plans to make physical changes to the site, a skeleton staff and a healthy list of interested companies.
With a background in motorsports for Michelin, he has had to work at speed.
Buildings have been cleared and in some cases demolished and Mr Coull has gone through a list of around 180 companies of all sizes interested in the site.
So far MSIP has welcomed five tenants bringing 74 jobs.
“In general we feel we’re actually a wee bit ahead of where we thought we would be,” he says.
“Despite all the implications of Covid, we have tenants on site, jobs starting to be generated and strong interest.
“A year ago I didn’t appreciate how much demand there would be – the pipeline is quite astonishing. We’ve taken it from 180 enquiries to 120 and then 30 real prospects.”
MSIP hopes to secure companies bringing hundreds of jobs
The MSIP plans have several elements – a skills academy, innovation hub and start-up space.
But central to the plans are landing companies bringing hundreds of jobs that can fill the handful of very large buildings on site.
Mr Coull expects it will be an exciting six months ahead, with hopes to secure three big employers this year.
“I want to get three big ones over the line this year, not necessarily on site, but secured,” he says.
“These are companies capable of bringing jobs in the hundreds.”
Mr Coull says Covid had meant the need for many interested companies to do virtual viewings, making it harder to give a feel for what the site will become.
There was also a degree of risk in selecting the companies from MSIP’s point of view, with many enquiries from start-ups.
The number of job per square metre is a key consideration to meet the 850 jobs target.
“Five tenants are here and another three are secured. By the end of the year with the companies on site we are going to have 123 workers. It’s a good start,” he adds.
“We are confident we’ll get to the 850 jobs potentially quicker than first envisaged. Then it will be a case of where do we go from here?
“Potential tenants realise we are much more than a landlord. They see the benefits of the skills academy and a purpose built curriculum in new technology and renewables.
“We offer a big support package – advice, guidance, accelerator programmes, maybe some challenges to solve problems they are working on.”
What are the other MSIP aims this year?
As well as bringing in key tenants and jobs, Mr Coull says MSIP has several other aims this year.
It intends to submit a joint bid with Forth Ports for a green port, the Scottish equivalent of a free port. The tax advantages of this designation would be another card to play when attracting good companies to Dundee.
It also plans to spend £1m on creating a skills academy that will be up and running for January 2022. The aim is for 250 learners a year to access the building by 2028.
The other ambition is to continue the £20m transformation programme, which includes new road access for heavy goods vehicles, the creation of a hydrogen fuelling station and preparing premises.
“We are very confident we’ll hit the 850 jobs,” Mr Coull adds.
“But we want to have a significant impact on the local economy at large.”
The transition from Michelin to MSIP
- Nov 2018: ‘Devastating’ blow to Dundee as Michelin plans to close Dundee factory ‘by 2020’
- Dec 2018: ‘Best of a bad situation’ as Scotland-Michelin Alliance looks to future of Dundee site
- Sep 2019: First look at plans to transform Michelin Dundee into world-class innovation centre
- Nov 2019: How ‘groundbreaking’ £60m innovation centre on Michelin’s Dundee site may look
- Jun 2020: ‘We walk out with our heads held high’: Michelin’s Dundee factory will close today after five decades of production
- Jul 2020: REVEALED: First firms at Dundee’s Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc to create 100+ jobs
- Nov 2020: Dundee jobs boost as first company sets up at Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc
- Jun 2021: Work begins on £20 million renovation of former Dundee Michelin site