But the row has seen Teesside once again making headlines for the wrong reasons.
The Daily Telegraph reported that two investors – BP and Equinor – had asked for legal guarantees Teesworks was corruption-free. Mr Houchen says they have been given those assurances via contract clauses, and all their concerns have been satisfied. Their plans to build a green energy plant are going ahead.
But Teesworks was raised in Parliament again on Wednesday by Sunderland Labour MP Julie Elliott at Prime Minister’s Questions.
She asked whether ministers had been involved in giving any guarantees to the companies. Rishi Sunak’s response was to say the contracts were a commercial matter for both firms.
What followed was an attack on Labour by Mr Houchen and Teesside Conservative MP Simon Clarke. They both used social media to accuse the party of a smear campaign that was hindering the prospects of bringing in new companies and jobs.
The mayor levelled his fire at Mr McDonald for making “unfounded allegations”, while Mr Clarke accused Labour of trying to “shatter confidence” in Teesworks for political purposes, warning the claims are “damaging investor confidence”.
He added: “It is damaging our area’s reputation. And it is utterly untrue.”