McLaren's boss hopes the 200 jobs at its new factory in the Sheffield City Region will spell an end to the area's unwanted reputation as Britain's low pay capital.
The supercar firm will begin advertising jobs at the new plant on Friday (February 10), after the £50m deal - exclusively revealed by The Star on Wednesday - was formally announced at a signing ceremony today.
Mike Flewitt, chief executive of McLaren Automotive, said the company was seeking around 50 research and development staff and 150 employees to work in manufacturing and logistics at the factory, which will be built in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) on the borders of Sheffield and Rotherham.
Sheffield was last month revealed to have the UK's lowest hourly wages, which a report put down to the concentration of low-paying sectors like office administration and retail in the area.
But Mr Flewitt said McLaren's newest employees would be much better rewarded, and he believed this investment could generate many more jobs in the area in the growing carbon fibre industry.
"We're recruiting first in the engineering and development side of the business, and we recruited our first apprentice only yesterday," he said.
"Even the roles in production will be skilled work and not jobs at the lowest end of the pay scale.
"The best thing is that it's 200 jobs in an industry which is quite early in its life. This technology will evolve and evolve.
"We're not just going out and recruiting people either. We're developing the engineers and talent and experts of the future."
McLaren weighed up several possible locations for its new factory, where the chassis for its fleet of exclusive vehicles will be built, but Mr Flewitt said the decision had proved an easy one in the end.
He said the firm had been enticed by the expertise available in the city, especially at the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufaturing and Research Centre (AMRC), and by the support from Sheffield and Rotherham councils.
"Coming to Sheffield was in many ways an easy decision. We see this as a supreme opportunity not just for McLaren but for the university and for the city itself," he said.
The deal was announced at the AMRC's Factory 2050 research hub in Tinsley, close to Rotherham's Advance Manufacturing Park where McLaren's new technology centre will be built.
In a flourish befitting one of the world's most glamorous brands, those involved put pen not to paper but to a glistening wind brake from one of its cars.
The deal itself is worth £50m, but the signatories hope it will fuel a £100m boost to the area's economy over the next decade and say future expansion could double that financial boon.
The new facility will be the company's first outside its Woking HQ and will increase the proportion of its vehicles sourced in the UK from 50 to 58 per cent.
McLaren's chassis have until now been produced in Geneva, Switzerland, but it hopes to complete a prototype at its new facility by the end of the year, and to have 5,000 rolling off the production line there by 2020.
Sir Nigel Knowles, chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said McLaren's decision to invest here represented a big vote of confidence in the area's potential.
"McLaren may be UK headquartered but it's a global brand and could have established a manufacturing base anywhere in the world. The fact it's chosen to do so here says a lot about our region," he said.
"This will be a hallmark for the region and will set it apart for decades to come."
The LEP invested £12m towards the project, which Sir Nigel said proved its commitment to creating 30,000 high value jobs and 6,000 new businesses across a region that is already home to major brands like Boeing and Rolls Royce.
Sheffield Council's deputy leader Leigh Bramall hailed the announcement as a victory for team work within the Sheffield City Region, which had suffered a blow when a political row caused the mayoral election to be postponed.
"This demonstrates the clear value of a Sheffield City Region and the partnership working that involves," he said.
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