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£130m bonanza for the Black Country

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

By John Butterworth

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THOUSANDS of Black Country jobs will be created in the next four years in a Government project.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and the Minister for Cities, Greg Clark, have agreed a City Deal with Black Country local authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership that will create 5,800 new manufacturing jobs, 1,500 apprenticeships with around £130 million of private investment which will include regenerating brownfield sites across the area.

The City Deal, which is recognition of the Black Country's role in the UK economy with high value manufacturing forming the largest concentration of jobs of any LEP area, will also provide intensive support for 2,800 long-term unemployed people in the region to help them find a job.

Stewart Towe, Chair of the Black Country LEP, said: "Businesses constantly tell us that assisting the growth of High Value Manufacturing is critical to the prosperity of the Black Country. The Black Country's partnership approach and the work of the LEP have created the City Deal to enable the Black Country to seize the global opportunities in High Value Manufacturing."

Councillor Roger Lawrence, Leader of Wolverhampton City Council on behalf of the local authorities, said: "The City Deal is an excellent example of how the Black Country's public and private sector work together for the benefit of all.

"The changes that will come about as a result of the deal will make a real difference to tackling youth unemployment and providing the skills for the jobs of the future."

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, said: "This City Deal marks the beginning of a new era of growth and prosperity in the Black Country. This isn't pointless Whitehall jargon; this City Deal has the genuine power to change the fortunes of many people across the region by creating new jobs, boosting businesses and providing new housing."

Greg Clark, Minister for Cities, said: "This City Deal is a landmark achievement. It puts the levers of power firmly into the hands of Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell and the whole region, so that everyone can benefit from real, local economic growth."

The City Deal agreement includes:

A new Black Country Investment Fund to help develop key industrial sites. This fund will be created through the agreement of a £20 million Government loan at a flexible rate and an investment of £10 million from the four Black Country Local Authorities.

The Black Country Growth Factory is being set up with £3.1 million of support from the Regional Growth Fund. The Growth Factory will provide an online portal for local businesses to access local and national support services, including specialist support to small businesses in the High Value Manufacturing sector, in recognition of their key role.

Also in the High Value Manufacturing sector, at least 1,500 additional apprenticeships will be created, with an investment of £18 million from employers in the sector. Around £120 million of private sector investment will be brought into Black Country High Value Manufacturing sites.

A programme to work intensively with 2,800 long-term unemployed moving at least 900 into employment, reducing welfare benefit costs by £1.1 million and increasing wages by £19 million.

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