On his first day in his new job, the man leading Dundee’s Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc described the future of the plant as a “phoenix rising from the ashes”.
In an exclusive interview chief executive Greig Coull revealed the parc will welcome its first tenant next month, with two more companies on site by early spring.
He is also in “serious talks” with a German energy certification company and was having early discussions with scores more.
Mr Coull, who has held several senior executive roles in Michelin, said he had thought long and hard about taking on the role at the former world-leading tyre plant.
The new complex is a joint venture between the French firm, Dundee City Council and Scottish Enterprise, with a focus on sustainable and low carbon energy which will have the twin aim of diversifying the economy and helping in the ongoing battle against climate change.
The site’s first three tenants will be Arcola Energy, Low Emissions Resources Global (LERG) and MEP Technologies.
Another, German company Tuv Sud, are close to signing on the dotted line.
The firm carries out certification, or quality checks, on various types of industrial machinery.
Mr Coull said: “Tuv Sud are world experts in all sorts of certification which will be important for all the companies working out of the parc.
“Talks with them have not yet concluded but we are far enough forward that they are happy for us to make that announcement.”
And he said he was confident the parc would be employing 500 people within the next three years and, within 10 years, would have replaced the 840 posts lost when the Michelin factory closed earlier this year.
As well as job creation, he said the site would also put Dundee on the global energy map.
He said: “What is happening here is like a phoenix rising from the ashes. We have ambitious plans to put the parc on a world stage with international companies, and to be recognised in an international field.
“Our aim is to contribute to the local and the Scottish economy, directly by paying rates and by employing local people who will then be injecting into Dundee’s economy.
“We believe Dundee is the right place for all of this. We are uniquely placed here with a 32-acre site to accommodate companies as they grow and expand, so the attraction for them here is they won’t need to move again.
“We are also unique with our energy supply in that we have the wind turbines that power the site and that fits what we are doing here.
“And we also have the right balance of academia and business people, with some great academics from both Dundee and St Andrews’ universities who will be on site.”
He said he firmly believed the site’s workforce would continue the long-standing legacy of innovation created by the generations of locals who worked at the tyre factory.
He added: “We also have the Dundee workforce – they are hard working and dynamic and highly motivated and go ahead and once they get something between their teeth they will help us drive it through.”
While most of the former Michelin workforce had been secured new jobs, there are about 50 still not in work. The new parc would look to work with them and help them create new skills, Mr Coull said.
He added: “One thing we will be doing is helping our workforce transfer and develop their skills.”
“It is very important to us that the jobs that we create serve the local economy the way the Michelin factory always did.”
Mr Coull said they were also in talks with a further 66 national and international companies who had indicated an interest in moving to Dundee.
He said: “Of these I would hope that we secure at least a third of them for the parc.
“Those we are currently speaking to are all at a stage in their own development that they could be able to come here.”
Mr Coull said the parc was now gearing up for the arrival of its first tenant, MEP.
“As it is, preparations are well in hand for the arrival of the first three companies,” he said.
“They have all been impacted by Covid but all will be on site by early next spring, with the first, MEP, arriving in November.”