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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 January 2007, 13:43 GMT
City's changing economic fortunes
By Andrew Black
BBC Scotland news website

Alliance Trust building plan
Alliance Trust has given Dundee a recent jobs boost
The announcement by US firm NCR to shed 650 jobs in Dundee has come at a time when its traditional manufacturing base has been slowly eroding.

The so-called City of Discovery has been lifted in recent years by the expansion of high-quality employment in areas such as the life sciences sector and efforts to re-build the local economy, but has also been hit by cuts in other areas.

Dundee's unemployment rate is above the national average and, like a number of other Scottish towns and cities, it is fairly reliant on jobs in the public sector.

When NCR Corporation selected Dundee as the base of UK operations in 1945, the jute industry still employed about one fifth of the working population.

Investment plan

At the time the city was trying to encourage new industries to set up there, and proved an attractive location because of the lack of damage Dundee sustained during the war, its good transport links and long hours of sunshine.

A fortnight after the 10th anniversary of the plant, the 250,000th cash machine was produced, and by the 1960s NCR had become the city's main employer and produced ATMs at several of its Dundee plants.

Astral, a Dundee-based firm that manufactured and sold refrigerators and spin dryers, was merged into Morphy Richards and rapidly expanded to employ more than 1,000 people.

Michelin factory
Michelin announced job losses in 2006

Michelin also arrived to set up a tyre-production facility and is today the city's biggest manufacturing employer, with about 1,000 workers.

But last summer, the company warned that a multi-million pound investment plan could lead to the loss of up to 100 jobs.

And in 2006, supermarket giant Tesco announced that more than 400 jobs would be lost in Dundee after it decided to build a new distribution depot in Livingston, creating more than 1,000 jobs in West Lothian.

Dundee Lord Provost John Letford, a former NCR employee, said the long-term effect the cuts would have on workers' families could not yet be known.

He said: "Many of the employees will have given many years loyal service to the firm but are now facing an unknown future."

Life sciences

But there has been good news for the city in recent times.

Investment group Alliance Trust has announced 160 new jobs at its base in Dundee and a new headquarters in the city centre.

And the city has become one of the country's main centres for the burgeoning life sciences sector, which now accounts for 15% of Dundee's economy, employing about 3,800.

The city's most bitter jobs blow came when Timex Electronics Corporation pulled out in 1993, following years of steady job losses.

The company had a 47-year association with Dundee, with a workforce of 5,000 in the 1970s.

But its last 10 years there brought continued job losses, a factory occupation and picket line violence which was compared to the miners strike.

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