Just weeks away from completion of the i54 South Staffordshire site, the three councils behind the development have hailed the importance of working together to create economic growth and jobs for the region.
The site, home to Jaguar Land Rover’s new engine manufacturing centre among others, has been developed in partnership between Staffordshire County Council, Wolverhampton City Council and South Staffordshire Council, with the city and county investing over £40m in the junction and site infrastructure.
The new motorway junction linking the site to the M54 will open on 11th December.
The project has been delivered on time, on budget and with four major businesses now up and running on site, showcases the best of British engineering, science and advanced manufacturing
Part of the Black Country Enterprise Zone, the employment site has secured hundreds of millions of pounds of investment with four major companies now operational on site – Jaguar Land Rover, Moog, Eurofins and ISP – who will collectively employ 2,000 people.
Political and business leaders came together at Moog this morning (20th November) to thank all of the partners involved in the project, including local enterprise partnerships, Government and transport providers. Centro provided a 54 bus – which connects i54 South Staffordshire to Wolverhampton and Bilbrook train stations, to take guests on a tour of the site.
Speaking at the event, Cllr Roger Lawrence, Leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said:“I54 will stand as one of the most important business sites in the region and nationally. The partnership we formed with Staffordshire and South Staffordshire was visionary and highly ambitious. Today we can celebrate what we have achieved. The mark of the success of this development has been the global businesses we have attracted which will lead to so much more investment and new jobs across our region. Through careful planning and close working across our councils and with Government and business, we have delivered a prime location for business which is highly accessible. We look forward to the opening of the new junction next month and seeing new businesses on site which will support sustained growth in our economy.”
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “We have come a long way in just a few years, turning i54 South Staffordshire from a brownfield site in the midst of the recession to part of the best performing Enterprise Zone in the country, epitomising the region and country’s economic recovery.
“We have delivered – councils, government, businesses, local transport providers, our Local Enterprise Partnerships, working together to create a powerhouse of engineering, science and manufacturing. More importantly we have helped to create thousands of jobs for our people both on i54 and in the local supply chain, with apprenticeships and skills programmes offering better opportunities for future generations too.”
Cllr Brian Edwards, Leader of South Staffordshire Council, said: “The strong working relationship and commitment between the authorities is ongoing as we continue to work closely together to ensure that i54 South Staffordshire, and the area as a whole, is at the forefront of modern world class engineering, science and manufacturing. A skilled workforce of over half-a-million people live within 30 minutes, while 13 nearby universities produce high quality graduates.The jobs and opportunities created here at i54 will benefit local business, our communities and our people for decades to come.”
Work is ongoing to attract more businesses onto i54, although almost 90% of the 239 acre site is now occupied.
As part of the Black Country Enterprise Zone, businesses moving on to the site from outside the zone can benefit from 100% business rate relief worth up to £275,000 over a five-year period.
Stewart Towe Chairman of the Black Country LEP said: “The completion of the i54 motorway junction will be great news as it opens up direct access to the i54 part of the Black Country Enterprise Zone. The Enterprise Zone status has enabled the LEP and its partners Wolverhampton City Council and Staffordshire County Council to fund £36m towards the junction construction costs. The junction will improve accessibility for the advanced manufacturing companies such as Moog, Eurofins, ISP and JLR’s Engine Manufacturing Centre which have been attracted to i54, creating 2,000 skilled jobs.”
David Frost, Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership, said: “The i54 South Staffordshire project is an inspiring example of what business, local and central government can achieve when they invest in the right infrastructure. The partners have shown that they can deliver, and looking to Staffordshire in particular, shovels are ready to start work on more employment sites across the county funded by the recent Growth Deal, that will help confirm our place as an powerhouse of engineering and industry.”
Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “Successful businesses need great transport links to thrive. The opening of this new junction at the i54 site delivers that. Not only will it allow the current tenants of the Black Country Enterprise Zone to grow their business, but it also provides a real boost to those companies that are supplying them. It’s further proof that our enterprise zone programme is on track, creating world-class business sites that are driving forward local economies.”