Michelin closure strengthens Dundee’s resolve - comment

Dundee witnessed another poignant moment in its industrial decline as Michelin permanently ceased its operations in the city last week after nearly half a century of tyre production.

The closure is another economic blow but the city can thrive, says Fusaro. Picture: Andrew Milligan.

The closure is another economic blow but the city will survive and has every chance to thrive. As locally-born actor Brian Cox recently suggested, Dundee is referred to as the City of Discovery – but it could equally be known as the City of Survival. While the impact of losing 850 jobs at Michelin is considerable, efforts have seen most of the pre-retirement age workers finding new roles or starting further education programmes.

Looking at the bigger picture, Dundee now has real potential to progress towards a bright future. This is already being partly driven by the regeneration of the Dundee Waterfront, one of Scotland’s biggest urban renewal schemes that has attracted more than £1 billion of investment and has brought the iconic V&A museum to the city.

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Although this has been paused due to the Covid-19 lockdown, civic leaders remain committed to completing the project and believe the temporary cessation in works has let them to rethink how the development should look in a post-pandemic world.

Jennefer Fusaro, associate and hospitality sector specialist at law firm CMS. Picture: contributed.

Along with its transforming waterfront, Dundee is also set to benefit from investment in other areas of the city including the very site where tyres were produced for 50 years, which has now reopened as the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP).

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Supported by more than £3 million in Scottish Government funding, MSIP is a joint venture between Dundee City Council, Michelin and Scottish Enterprise to drive growth and diversity in the Scottish economy and address the climate emergency.

As the tyre factory’s doors closed, MSIP’s were opened as it welcomed its first three tenants, all low-carbon energy businesses that, between them, are set to bring around 150 jobs to the site in the next two years.

Dundee has also been identified as the proposed site for the next Eden Project. The charity’s initial site in Cornwall, billed as the world’s largest indoor rainforest, attracts around a million visitors a year. If it comes to fruition, Dundee will grow its emerging reputation as a tourist attraction, especially important as Scotland is about to experience a significant rise in staycations.

The new Eden Project site could also attract further environmental research opportunities to the city and would underline it being the Best Place to Live in Scotland, an accolade it was given last year.

While the Michelin factory closure is another distressing moment in the decline of Dundee’s proud industrial legacy, the City of Survival is living up to its lesser-known tagline and moving forward. Like all UK cities, Dundee faces major challenges in overcoming the impact of Covid-19 but it has many reasons to be optimistic.

Jennefer Fusaro, associate and hospitality sector specialist at law firm CMS

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