Construction work has started this month at the Hereford Enterprise Zone, the first of an initial wave of multi-million investments on the 72-hectare site.
Beck Group is the first of two companies to sign contracts with the Enterprise Zone, with the first construction contract awarded to a Herefordshire company.
Leominster Construction will be developing the new facility for Beck Group, a leading UK supplier of products to the construction and horticultural industries, on a site known as Skylon East.
Development will also start later this year on a new regional centre for Western Power Distribution on three acres next to Chapel Road. The building, which features low carbon design and energy efficient materials, will offer engineering facilities, office space and storage for the company as well as significant apprenticeship opportunities for young people in the area.
Skylon Park is the 72-hectare site designated as the Enterprise Zone of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, the private sector-led organisation tasked with revitalising the economy of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
The majority of the land in the Zone, 80 per cent, is owned by Herefordshire Council with the remainder owned by the Goodwin Trust.
Chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board, Bill Jackson, said: “Skylon Park is a world class business landscape and the arrival of these companies launch what will be a period of sustained investment and development here.
“We have already ploughed more than £20 million into infrastructure projects to ensure the Zone is ready for investors who wish to come here, and we’re delighted to welcome these first two companies on site. We’re particularly pleased to see that the first construction contract has been awarded to a local company, Leominster Construction.
“Our aim is for 1,500 jobs to be generated by the Zone by 2015 – both of these companies will be creating employment for local people and Western Power has also committed to increasing the number of apprentices it takes on each year.
“Our investment team is speaking with a number of other prestigious business names and following up promising leads which we hope will lead to further investments in the coming weeks and months.”
Businesses moving on to the Enterprise Zone benefit from business rate relief worth up to £275,000 per business over a five year period, as well as simplified planning processes and superfast broadband.
Zone board member and Herefordshire Councillor Roger Phillips added: “Western Power Distribution and Beck Group are two very different companies, operating in very different fields. But what they have in common is a desire to invest in business growth, which in turn creates sustainable private sector jobs.
“We’re pleased to welcome them to Skylon Park, they are the first of many enterprising and forward-thinking companies which will be investing here over the coming weeks, months and years.”