A £6 million cash injection will attract new businesses to a Black Country business park which is already benefiting from a major investment by Jaguar Land Rover, ministers have announced.
The grant will be used to develop 11 hectares of land at the i54 business park outside Wolverhampton.
Jaguar Land Rover has completed the main building of its £500 million Engine Manufacturing Centre on the site, and is now recruiting staff . It is set to take on 600 production workers over the next four years.
The new grant will be used to attract firms to the remaining development plots on the site.
It is one of 12 “enterprise zone” bids across the country to receive the green light from Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.
He said: “The Black Country is already recognised as a global centre for automotive manufacturing. Now the area has won more than £6 million pounds to improve infrastructure: helping to attract even more creative and innovative businesses.
“The announcement that the area has won another chunk of government cash is a clear vote of confidence and a sure sign of the positive impact this Enterprise Zone is having on the local economy.
He added: “Here in the Black Country, big names like Jaguar Land Rover as well as smaller but no less exciting companies like Mood, ISP and EuroFins are taking advantage of the fast-track planning processes, superfast broadband and tax breaks.
“This new cash will make the site even more attractive, by improving the local roads and turning decontaminated land into new business opportunities.
“Hundreds of jobs have already been created across the zone, with up to 6,000 planned by 2020.
"The business community is also investing in its future workforce, developing strong links with local schools and colleges as well as the University; as well as supporting basic skills training programmes and creating new apprenticeships.
“All this means there has never been a better time to do business in the Black Country, meaning the economy is set to grow and the community set to benefit.”
In addition, universities in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield have been invited to bid for part of a £15 million fund to establish University Enterprise Zones.
This will strengthen the role of higher education in supporting local growth and innovation and lead to the development of new business spaces within universities. These spaces will host a range of start up, high-tech companies, that can benefit best from a universities’ expert knowledge.
Ministers also highlighted measures announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, to ensure that 300,000 retail businesses will be eligible for a new special retail discount, worth £1000.
Retail premises are eligible for a £1,000 discount in 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016 if they have a rateable value below £50,000.
Councils should now automatically include the discount in the business rate bills they are sending out shortly so all eligible businesses receive their centrally funded tax break.
Business specifically excluded include payday lenders, betting shops and pawn brokers.