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Dunston Business Village

Million pound business interest free loan scheme for businesses to kick-start development

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Businesses with ambitious development plans could benefit from a new round of funding which kick-starts projects and boosts growth. The latest round of the Growing Places Fund is making £1 million available in interest-free loans to support infrastructure projects.

Projects could include development of commercial space including retail, housing or connections that will lead to more investment, regeneration and job creation. There is no upper limit for loans, which are interest free, though the minimum amount is £50,000.

The Government fund is delivered by the county council on behalf of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Previous projects using the fund have included office developments, and advanced manufacturing facility, student accommodation and infrastructure provision for industrial development.

The fund supported the expansion of Dunston Business Village, close to Junction 13 on the M6. The award-winning business park is completely occupied with a long waiting list. It has attracted a broad range of companies from all over the UK – relocating to Staffordshire and creating more jobs locally.

In order to meet the high demand for office space, Dunston Business Village added over 50,000 sq ft of office space. The development more than tripled its size. Managing director Adrian McLaughlin said: “I wanted to create an environment where businesses wanted to be and where people wanted to work.

“Most of our businesses employ between one and 60 people and the feedback I receive is how they all enjoy spending their working day here and that Staffordshire is a great location.

“Without the Growing Places Fund, we would not have been able to meet the high demand for our office space, within a reasonable time. It has enabled us to expand at a much quicker rate, which in turn has allowed our clients to expand and take on more employees. The fund has been a great success for our business and has certainly made a dramatic difference to our ability to meet demand.”

Use of the Growing Places fund to support the Dunston Business Village expansion was so successful that Adrian had a second loan application approved to expand the site even further. Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for economic growth Mark Winnington said: “The Growing Places Fund has made a real difference to a range of businesses since it was launched and is now in its 12th round.

“It has enabled extensive development which has brought in business and created jobs. Dunston Business Village is a real Staffordshire success story and expanded to provide a base for even more small businesses which play a vital part in the local economy.

“Adrian and the team at Dunston have done a fantastic job in creating the best environment for these businesses to operate and thrive.”

LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “The Growing Places Fund is a great scheme providing interest-free or very affordable finance to help local businesses grow and thrive. This funding can really help to speed up businesses’ expansion plans and have a very positive impact on jobs and growth.

“I would urge any firms considering growth plans and who think they could be eligible for support to contact us if they would like further information.”

Businesses can qualify for loans if they are planning a scheme worth £100,000 or more. They can take advantage of an interest free loan if they can repay the money within two years of their project being completed. Beyond that period interest will be charged at the lowest commercially appropriate level.

Interested businesses can find out more by visiting www.stokestaffslep.org.uk or by calling the Growing Places fund team on 01785 277706.

New future earmarked for key Stoke-on-Trent city centre site

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The eyesore East-West precinct is set to be demolished after the council announced it is aiming to buy the venue and knock it down to kick-start development on the key city centre site.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has moved to buy the site in the interests of businesses, residents, visitors and the city centre’s image and regeneration. A report will go before a special meeting of the council’s cabinet on October 2, where council leaders are set to give the go ahead for the necessary land acquisition and demolition. The move would see the council, which already owns the old bus station part of the site, buy a number of individual properties or parcels of land to gain control of the majority of the site, subject to final agreement at a full council meeting on 18 October.   Demolition work could start on site as early as January, with the site cleared and a car park built for short-term use – providing extra parking spaces for the city centre and additional income for the council to reinvest in services. At the same time, the council would begin looking at the long-term options of the site with a focus on community, leisure, commercial and residential developments.   One potential option favoured by the council on part of the site is the construction of a purpose-built youth facility offering a number of services for young people aged between eight and nineteen years old. While plans are yet to be drawn up, ideas for the centre include a fitness suite, sports hall, boxing and martial arts gym, music, film and multi-media rooms, a café, arts and crafts areas as well as external activity space.   The council would spend around £4 million on acquiring the site and demolishing buildings, with a further £3.5m earmarked for the youth facility. The youth facility would aim to give young people from across the city access to somewhere exciting to go and something positive to do 364 days of the year.   Cllr Ann James, Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “This is about leadership. As we’ve seen with Smithfield, Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone and the former Victoria Ground, the council forging the way with investment creates confidence. Our track record shows we get things done and that helps to attract private sector investment. That’s exactly what we want to see here, and we would welcome the views of both residents and businesses once we have looked at all the options for the site.   “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the city centre and we can’t let it slip by. The alternative is to sit back and watch the site be sold piece-by-piece over the next five to fifteen years with no certainty involved, and we can’t afford for that to happen as a city.”   Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage at the city centre, said: “The decision by Realis Estates not to pursue their Unity Walk development while disappointing presents the council with a unique one-off opportunity to be able to do the right thing for Stoke-on-Trent, and that is what we intend to do.   “This is a site with huge potential, linking the excellent Potteries Centre and Hive with the burgeoning Smithfield development, and we want a development that matches our ambition and aspiration for the city. It has to be something that complements what we already have and gives people a reason to come to the city centre.   “This is one of a number of investments taking place in all six towns across the city – work such as investing in our town halls and the historic Spode site are all about galvanising regeneration in the city and showing Stoke-on-Trent is very much open for business.”   Duncan Mathieson, Managing Director of Realis Estates said: “We have spent many years putting together this strategically important site and were obviously disappointed that – despite significant investment of both time and money – we were unable to bring forward a development.

“My historic connection with Stoke-on-Trent meant that I was keen to keep the site as a whole and – prior to fully marketing the site – we approached the city council with a view to selling them our interests in order to ensure that the opportunity to transform this end of the city centre wasn’t lost.   “We have worked closely with the council over the past few months to agree a fair price and ensure that progress towards demolition could move forward while we completed the sale.  We wish them every success in the future and have no doubt they will transform this site as they have Smithfield and other parts of the city.”

CoOpStore Under Construction

Opening of new Co-op to create jobs for Stafford at Beacon Business Park

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In a few months a new Central England Co-operative store is expected to open on Beacon Business Park, creating dozens of jobs for the local community and providing a much-needed amenity for housing developments nearby. The 4,000 sq ft convenience store will be located off the Blackheath Lane roundabout, on the Weston Road out of Stafford towards the County Showground.

The site was purchased by Stafford-based Inglewood Investments and construction is progressing quickly. The external shell of the store has been completed and work on the interior of the Co-op will commence shortly.    The new convenience store will be fitted out with pioneering energy efficient refrigeration technologies to minimise environmental impact and LED lighting.

Not only will the new Co-op be creating new jobs, it will also play a key role in the local community. The retailer runs a Community Dividend scheme, which gives local good causes and community groups the chance to apply for a grant ranging from £100 to £5,000. The introduction of a food bank collection point will be installed to support even more local causes and a lifesaving defibrillator will also be located onsite.

Jamie Martin, Co-op Operations Manager for the area, said: “We are excited about our new store in Stafford and about being part of the local community. The new site will feature a vibrant and modern store that will provide all customers and members with all of their essentials and also see us invest in the local economy and create jobs for local people.”

Andrew Harp, Councillor and representative of the Milwich ward on Stafford Borough Council, has praised the opening on the new Co-op, as it will give a boost to the economy and create more jobs. “Any business that opens in Stafford is great news for the town,” he said, “The business park has been going for years and Stafford as a town is blessed with new businesses opening. It’s all good for the economy.”

The Co-op is the latest exciting addition to the 50-acre development zone after Costa Coffee Drive Thru which opened in May 2018. It is currently scheduled to open before the end of the year and will be marked with a range of special events.

For more information about commercial property for sale at Beacon Business Park in Stafford, contact ISE Estates on 01785 256098 or email info@espleys.co.uk.

ISE Estates & Trading is a consortium of 3 Stafford-based businesses which came together in 2004 to purchase and develop the redundant 22-acre RAF Site 3.  Since acquisition the site is fully let and over 300 jobs have been created.

A further 50 acres on Beacon Business Park Growth Point was granted planning permission in 2012 for:

  • 11,000 sqm B1 Office
  • 33,000 sqm B1 Light industrial
  • 16,500 sqm B2 General industrial
  • 11,000 sqm Warehouse
  • 3,000 sqm Mixed A3, A4, C1 and D1.

In May 2013, a grant of £1,7 million was awarded by the Growing Local Pinch Point Fund to construct the new roundabout on Weston Road / Blackheath lane and open up access to the new development land.

FGD-1

Business backs plans for employment site’s major extension

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A Staffordshire business which was involved in the development of one of the county’s leading employment sites has backed plans for its extension.

The western extension plans for i54 South Staffordshire have now been submitted to the district council. If approved, it would mean one large or several smaller employers could deliver 2,700 jobs on site and generate £600million investment.

Aggregates and waste material solution firm FGD, which is based in Wombourne, is supporting the extension plans for i54 South Staffordshire having worked on the original site construction.

The business has taken on 11 new employees since its involvement with i54 South Staffordshire. It has also developed three apprentices who all live within five miles of its Wombourne headquarters.

FGD’s work during construction involved removing 200,000 tonnes of soil from the site and taking on 200,000 tonnes of stone. It also removed contaminated soil which was processed and reused – saving £500,000 in tip costs.

Since it took on the i54 South Staffordshire contract in 2012, FGD has seen its annual turnover increase from £9m to £23m. The i54 contract has directly contributed between £6m and £7m. This has allowed the company to invest in new technology to improve efficiency.

FGD is now looking forward to further growth plans and local expansion, taking on more employees and apprentices. It has a second office in Rugby and customers across the country.

The company used a Wombourne business to livery its vehicles, a local business to design its website and a building firm from Kinver to expand its offices.

Spencer Davies, director of FGD, said: “FGD Limited firmly believes in investment in local people and promoting within. This core ethos only happens when growth happens locally to. Such further investment into the i54 site will allow this to continue for many years.”

More than £1 billion has so far been invested in the current i54 site, with 2,500 people employed by multi-national companies JLR, Moog, ISP, Eurofins, ERA and Tentec with a further 2,100 jobs anticipated over the next few years. Over 3,500 students have also benefitted from a targeted skills and education programme.

i54 and its expansion play an integral part of the Midlands Engine strategy to maximise the economic potential of the area.  It is also backed by both the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and Black Country Local Enterprise Partnerships and local businesses.

Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins said: “The success of i54 South Staffordshire has been outstanding – attracting global leaders in their sectors and thousands of skilled jobs.

“While we celebrate the fact that these businesses are located here, i54 South Staffordshire has a huge impact across our area as the experience of FGD demonstrates.

“From construction firms to supply chain industries and retail and leisure establishments; this business park leads to a thriving local, regional and national economy and all the opportunities that brings for local business and people.

“We are proud of how the local government partnership worked together to achieve this and we have been rightly recognised by Government and the business community.

“It is therefore no surprise about the demand to locate here – and the subsequent need for expansion. i54 South Staffordshire will play a vital part in the Midlands Engine and in the growing productivity of Staffordshire and our neighbours.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “i54 is one of the UK’s premier advanced manufacturing business parks.

“Our joint investment at i54 has secured hundreds of millions of pounds of further investment and has brought thousands of jobs to the area, with 40 per cent of employees living within a ten-mile radius.

“Demand is high for more accommodation from potential investors and the western extension will enable us to deliver that for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

More information about the extension plans can be found at www.i54online.com/westernextension

Work starts on city centre Hilton Garden Inn development

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Ground has been broken on the brand-new Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Stoke-on-Trent, part of the landmark Smithfield development – signalling a key milestone in the continued regeneration of the city centre.

Construction machinery has been moved onto the site as work takes place to create the foundations for the £20 million development, which will create dozens of jobs, provide a new high-quality accommodation offer for business and leisure visitors to the city and boost the local economy.

The 140-bed four-star Hilton Garden Inn is the first Hilton branded hotel in the city and is being delivered in a partnership between Genr8 Developments and Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The ground-breaking for the hotel comes just three months after building work started on an 11-storey city centre residential development on the same site.

Cllr Ann James, leader of the city council, said: “This hotel development is another clear indicator that Stoke-on-Trent is changing for the better. We need more hotel accommodation in the city centre if we are to develop as a progressive, vibrant city. When you compare us to places of similar sizes, it has been an area where we have fallen short in the past but we are addressing that now.

“To have a hotel offer like this coming to Stoke-on-Trent shows the growing confidence there is in the city from investors and the private sector. We’re delighted to have Hilton Garden Inn here in Stoke-on-Trent – the fact they want to bring their name and brand to the city speaks volumes for the direction we are heading in as a city, and it will help to attract further investment from other companies.

“When you combine the Smithfield hotel and apartment developments with all the public realm work that has taken place, and the planned improvements to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, it’s a very exciting time for our city. These are landmark schemes which are creating a new direction and future for Stoke-on-Trent, and seeing millions of pounds invested to drive and accelerate regeneration.

“The apartments will give the city centre a significant amount of residents in one location, who will increase footfall, support the local businesses and lead to further investment. The hotel is a completely new offer for the business and leisure market which will draw more people in and only further bolster the area’s economic strength.”

The hotel, due to be completed in late 2019, will include a gym, restaurant and bar and extensive meeting room facilities which will be available for hire.

Richard Ingham, partner at Genr8 Developments, said: “We’re delighted to announce that construction works have officially begun on the new Hilton Garden Inn, and are excited to be bringing the Hilton name to Stoke-on-Trent. Our decision to own as well as develop the new hotel signifies our confidence in both the Hilton brand and the demand for a new high-quality hotel in the city centre.

“Reaching this important milestone is testament to all of the partners involved in particular the city council and Hilton. Stoke-on-Trent is a city on the up and the new hotel will be an important addition for both the business and tourism industries in the region.”

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has provided a financial contribution for the hotel development, showing leadership and intent by the city council and the LEP to drive the economy and accelerate growth in the city.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise partnership chairman David Frost CBE said: “The start of construction work on Stoke-on-Trent’s Hilton Garden Inn hotel is excellent news for this ambitious city. Expanding and enhancing Stoke-on-Trent’s hotel sector has been a long-term aspiration of the LEP and the city council and it is good to see this new hotel taking shape.

“A growing range of tourism, cultural and leisure destinations is developing in and around the city, making this an increasingly attractive destination for visitors and this new hotel will be a great addition to accommodation in the area.”

McArthurGlen

Work to Start On McArthurGlen’s Cannock Designer Outlet

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McArthurGlen, Europe’s leading owner, developer and manager of designer outlets, has confirmed that construction of the £160 million designer outlet in Cannock will commence this month, beginning with site preparation and earth works.

Cannock Chase District Council granted planning approval for a designer outlet at Mill Green in September 2016 following extensive consultations with the local community. In December 2017 McArthurGlen announced a joint venture with Aviva Investors (on behalf of Aviva Life and Pensions), The Richardson Family and U+I to develop Cannock Designer Outlet, which will span 285,000 sq. ft. of retail space across two phases. The development will become the Group’s 26th centre, and their seventh in the UK.

This £160 million investment will create a landmark retail destination and community hub for Cannock and the West Midlands, generating 1,000 jobs for the local area. Due to complete in 2020, Phase I will be home to 80 sought-after premium and luxury brands offering year-round savings of up to 60%, a selection of restaurants and cafes, a children’s play area, bike parking for cyclists  and 1,400 car parking spaces.

Cannock Designer Outlet will also deliver an additional £1.5 million investment in various projects that will bring significant benefits to the local community. This investment programme will include the enhancement and ongoing maintenance of the Mill Green Nature Park, improvements to Cannock Town Centre and the railway station, and support for developing skills and employment prospects for local people.

Gary Bond, Joint Managing Director of Development at McArthurGlen, said: “We are thrilled to start construction on this milestone development for Cannock. The new centre will generate significant employment for the local area and create a new retail destination for the region, serving 11 million local residents. Cannock Designer Outlet will be built to the highest standards of architectural design and sustainability, reflecting and respecting the surrounding natural landscape.”

Councillor George Adamson, Leader of Cannock Chase Council said: “The reality of creating one of the most significant things to happen in the district in recent memory is definitely here now, with this exciting news. As construction commences we will be working closely with McArthurGlen to ensure that disruption is kept to the minimum for our residents, as we progress to a development we can all be very proud about.”

Derbyshire based construction company Bowmer & Kirkland has been appointed to deliver the scheme.

104-bed Stoke-on-Trent city centre hotel given the green light

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Stoke-on-Trent City Council has granted planning permission for a 104-bed hotel in the city centre – which will create 30 jobs.

Members of the planning committee today gave the green light for the development on Clementsons Mill car park, on Clough Street. No objections were received to the plans, which propose a six-storey hotel with bar and restaurant, 64 parking spaces, and a flexible space for businesses or an ‘apart-hotel’ on the top floor.

Applicant Visk Ventures Ltd told the committee they are in talks with two potential operators, with both very keen to take on the development and move to the city centre.

Following an hour-long discussion, councillors voted to approve the plans. They agreed the development was a high-quality scheme which would improve the hotel offer in the city centre, showed how strong private sector confidence is in the city and would further bolster the area’s economic strength.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “Having a lack of a good range of short stay and hotel accommodation in the city centre has been something which has held us back in the past. We have a Premier Inn which is currently expanding due to its popularity, work due to start imminently on a Hilton Garden Inn and now this development.

“These developments will not only change the city centre offer and the skyline for the next 50 years or more, they will also give a massive boost to our visitor economy and enable more people to visit and stay. This is great news for our businesses, not just in the city centre but for Stoke-on-Trent overall. The developments are also creating new jobs for our residents, so it’s a good, positive story all round.

“This is sending out exactly the right message – that Stoke-on-Trent is open for business, that we are an attractive investment opportunity for developers and a unique visitor destination, too. Having private developers  and investors wanting to invest and build in our city is exactly what this administration is working hard to achieve – a progressive, developing and vibrant city for everyone.”

Martin Bose Flatvision

Businesses celebrate ten-year anniversary of enterprise centre

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Martin Bose, director of Flat Vision.

Small businesses based at one of Staffordshire County Council’s enterprise centres have been celebrating ten years of its provision of commercial space to aid growth.

Lymedale Business Centre in Newcastle opened in 2008 and is now home to 36 small businesses, offering a broad range of goods and services.

Across the county there are eight enterprise centres, offering both office, workshop and industrial units to small businesses. The office units are let on flexible short-term tenancy arrangements and offer a range of facilities including meeting rooms, parking and networking opportunities. Lymedale is now connected to fibre broadband through the county council’s Superfast Staffordshire programme.

Among the Lymedale businesses are Flat Vision – which provides LCD displays for many sectors including health organisations, industry, military and leisure. Network Rail, Marks & Spencer, the Royal Navy, Stoke City FC and Centre Parcs are among its customers.

Company director Martin Bose said: “In our previous premises we were fragmented. “Here at Lymedale the business support is fantastic and the facilities are second to none. When we need to have client meetings, this is a great place to do it.

“There is a community of small businesses in this building which provides great networking opportunities. We are currently recruiting and we know that with the flexible tenancy arrangements, expansion is possible. And it is important to us to be located in Staffordshire. We’re in the heart of the country and we employ local skills; including our programme of bringing in interns from Keele University.”

Luminite ICT provides ICT, phone systems and communications support. Its director Lyndon Eaton said: “We provide ICT and phone systems and have contracts with over half of the businesses at Lymedale, so being located here is important. The facilities here are excellent and really help to take some of the headaches of running a business.

“The manned reception means we don’t have to worry about delivery times. We can gain access to the building 24/7 and it is very secure. Flexible tenancies are important to us. It means we don’t have to commit to lengthy agreements and we soon hope to expand.”

Peter Brough is CEO of Cybernautix, a web design and online marketing company.

He said: “Originally we were home based, but as we grew it became more important to be somewhere we can bring our clients as a professional business.

“There is a massive advantage in having a flexible tenancy – we have a rolling contract which means low investment and it takes the pressure off, allowing us to focus on growing the business. Being in a building with other small businesses is helpful and there is a lot of networking opportunities.”

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader said: “Lymedale Business Centre is home to 36 thriving small businesses providing a range of goods and services, creating jobs and playing an important part in our economic growth.

“They are innovative enterprises and I am pleased that our centre has provided suitable premises to enable their successful operations and continued growth.

“Our enterprise centres are attractive to businesses as they provide the facilities they need in addition to flexible short-term tenancies which remove any worry about committing to long agreements. We’re pleased that Lymedale has been providing support to small businesses in Staffordshire for a decade now.”

(left to right) James Leavesley from the LEP, local county councillor Julia Jessel and Philip Atkins

Partners gather to mark completion of major road scheme delivering multi-million pound development

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The completion of a major Staffordshire road project which will pave the way to a multi-million pound business, housing and leisure development near Burton has been marked at an event near the site.

The Branston Locks development will see 400 acres of land immediately west of the A38 developed with 2,500 new homes, a range of community facilities and a 50-acre employment site.

It will also include retail, health, leisure and recreational facilities, as well as provision for older people. A new 1,550 place high school has been built by the county council on land nearby – the first in 25 years – and a new primary school will also be built. The total investment in the area could be over £800million.

The county council has delivered a package of road and infrastructure works which will enable Nurton Developments (Quintus Ltd) to move on site to carry out the main project, together with residential developers.

The road project has been partly funded by the Government’s Local Growth Fund through its Growth Deal with the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Nurton Developments has also made a substantial contribution. The project recently scooped the Best Large Project award at an annual regional Institute of Highway Engineers event.

It has involved a complete realignment of Branston Road to make it suitable for the volume of traffic created by the new development and construction of a new bridge over the Trent and Mersey Canal. The new bridge has already won an award for its engineering design. Pedestrian and cycle access to the future development and canal tow path have also been created.

The project delivery team joined county council leader Philip Atkins, local enterprise partnership executive board member James Leavesley, chief executive of the John Taylor Academy Mike Donaghue and other delegates at the event at The Bridge Inn, Branston, on Friday.

Staffordshire County Council’s leader Philip Atkins said: “This has been a huge project for us – paving the way for hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment leading to new jobs and new homes. It is a credit to our teams that it has been completed on time and on budget and is another example of the county council’s successful delivery of a major infrastructure project.

“Branston Locks is also further demonstration of effective close working between the county council, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, developers and other partners including the local parish council to further increase Staffordshire’s economic growth across the whole county and make it the right place for business investment and an attractive place to live and visit.”

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP executive board member James Leavesley said: “This road scheme has opened up a major development site, paving the way for new jobs, homes and community facilities.

“It is an excellent example of how we are working together across the public and private sectors to create new jobs, sustained economic growth and flourishing local communities. Branston Locks is one of a whole series of exciting new developments taking place across our region illustrating that Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire is an increasingly attractive place for businesses to locate and grow, and a great place to live.”

i54 South Staffordshire

County growth programme set to deliver 20,000 jobs on completed development projects and boost workplace skills

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Business development and infrastructure projects so far completed by the county council as part of a decade-long growth project could see the creation of nearly 20,000 jobs.

The total value of the 15 projects completed since the growth programme began in in 2014 is £160million. Projects which are currently being carried out are valued at £204million – £15million of which is from direct county council investment.

With current (live) projects, for every £1 invested by the county council, £13.60 worth of private sector and other investment is levered in. So far on the completed sites such as i54 South Staffordshire and Redhill Business Park there are already 6,650 people working or jobs have been committed.

In addition to creating employment in Staffordshire, the sites attract additional investment, boost supply chain industries and contribute to public services through increased business rates.

The completed employment sites generate around £9 million worth of total business rates per annum – half of which is returned back to central government. It is anticipated that completed and planned developments will eventually generate £30million in business rates.

In addition to the delivery of major business and infrastructure development, the county council’s growth programme includes support for existing businesses, the development of skills to meet the needs of employers and the roll-out of superfast fibre broadband.

The county council administers the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub on behalf of the local enterprise partnership (LEP). It gives support to small and medium sized businesses – including signposting them to funding opportunities and professional advice. Between May 2014 and May 2018 is has assisted over 6,000 businesses.

As a result of increased employment opportunities there is an increased need by businesses for skills in advanced manufacturing and engineering. An Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Hub is being delivered across six sites to provide state of the art learning facilities and equipment. It is supporting over 4,500 learners and adding millions to the local economy output.

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “Our economic growth programme is delivering the creation of skilled jobs and millions of pounds worth of investment. It is a priority of the county council to ensure that there are increased employment opportunities in our key sectors with higher skilled, better paid jobs making us a more prosperous county,

“Before the current programme ends a further 17,000 jobs will be created and 4,500 trainees, learners or apprentices supported.

“In addition to delivering the infrastructure to pave the way for business development we will build our network of support for small businesses which employ 55 per cent of our workforce. This programme is helping us to ensure that we have a balanced and strong economy in Staffordshire.”

The economic growth programme report will be discussed at a meeting of the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee next week.

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