Blackpool enterprise zone praised one year on

Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone has been praised by a hi-tech firm, one year on from its launch.

Tuesday, 4th April 2017, 4:52 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:28 pm
Coun Mark Smith and Steve Williams at Force Technology Blackpool
Coun Mark Smith and Steve Williams at Force Technology Blackpool

Since going live on April 1 last year, the Government-backed enterprise zone is now home to over 200 businesses and around 1,500 employees.

It has already attracted 28 new companies and is hosting 450 new jobs in the area.

It is expected to add an extra 2,500 jobs over the next 24 years and is seen as the best hope for creating good quality engineering, energy, office and food sector jobs in the town, which is known for its tourism and hospitality industry.

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One of the new firms is Force Technology, the first attracted to the area by the favourable rates relief of up to £275,000 over a five-year

period and capital allowances on fixed plant and machinery.

It makes high precision springs for the automotive, transport and shipping industry.

Steve Williams, managing director, said the zone was ideally placed with good road connections and was bringing highly skilled, well-paid jobs to the area.

He said: “We made the right choice basing our company in Blackpool’s Enterprise Zone.

“When we moved in to our premises there were only three of us.

“Now we have grown to 17 staff. By next year we predict that Force Technology will be employing over 30 staff and we are delighted with the quality of the local workforce.”

He said the staff he needed had to be very experienced engineers and it could take up to five years training on the range of machines there.

He added: “There are many factors that have helped deliver this success. The location is ideal with easy access to the transport network. Our premises never fail to impress our customers, many of whom are internationally based.”

Force Technology is currently based within Blackpool Council’s Illuminations depot at the site and has invested around £2m in its high tech springs equipment, but has plans to move to a purpose built unit nearby in the zone in two to three years time.

Mr Williams added: “The support from the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company, which is masterminding the development of the Enterprise Zone, has been top class. We would highly recommend businesses to locate in Blackpool. It’s a winner.”

Coun Mark Smith, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for business and economic development, said: “Progress at the Enterprise Zone is really gaining momentum with new businesses moving in.

“It is playing a key part in delivering Blackpool Council’s vision for jobs and growth in the area. The last year has seen a spurt of activity with new developments, existing buildings adding extra office space, and new warehouse facilities completed.

“We are well on our way to creating within 25 years the 3,000 new jobs that we originally envisaged and achieving our goal to attract 140 new businesses.”

A detailed master plan for the scheme will set the future development of the Enterprise Zone and open up the full potential of the site, with hopes for improved access via another road, and new areas surrounding the airport opened up for development.

The enterprise zone, along with its sister site at Hillhouse International in Thornton, is being overseen by the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company.