7,000 jobs on way as Mayoral Combined Authority pumps £170m into South Yorkshire firms

Up to 7,000 jobs could be created in the next two years in South Yorkshire under radical plans to pump £170m into fast growing firms.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 11:08 pm

Some 137 companies have been identified for support by the Mayoral Combined Authority in a bid to boost the region’s under-performing economy.

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It is hoped the funding will be matched by up to £900m from the firms themselves - and go on to create up to five times as many ‘indirect’ jobs among suppliers, according to James Muir, chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership, the MCA’s business arm.

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It is hoped the funding will be matched by up to £900m from the firms themselves - and go on to create up to five times as many ‘indirect’ jobs among suppliers, according to James Muir, chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership.

WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?

The scheme will tap into £500m borrowed from the Treasury in 2022 and paid off using the region’s devolution funding, worth £30m a year over 30 years.

Mr Muir said it was better to get the cash up front and put it to work now rather than wait decades.

Steve Lindsey, executive chair of Lontra, said then: “We are thrilled to open our first factory in the region with the support of South Yorkshire MCA."

The aid will be in the form of grants, loans or investments to local firms and inward investors.

But Mr Muir insisted it wasn’t just ‘cheap money’. It came with a string of conditions including matching funding by ‘at least’ the same amount - but in most cases ‘much more’ - and hitting job creation goals.

WHY IS IT NECESSARY?

The need was ‘urgent’ he added.

Warwickshire-based Lontra is receiving a £5m grant and £2m loan from the MCA to help fund a £17m new factory in Doncaster and create 300 jobs.

He said: “We need to be investing. We have one of the lowest productivity economies in the country. I hope this will create some momentum and show we are in the business of job creation.

“I think South Yorkshire is one of the first to agree the mechanism with Treasury. The government traditionally hands out little bits of money with caveats on spending. This allows the MCA to act alone and make investments without necessarily being dependent on central government.”

Mr Muir, and the MCA trade and investment team led by Rachel Clark, identified firms in six areas: digital, energy, advanced manufacturing, scientific, retail and logistics.

But they wanted to hear from more.

He added: “We’re targeting businesses with the potential for growth of higher skilled jobs where we can accelerate business plans. We also want to attract investors that make sense for the region.”

ARE ANY DEALS IN THE PIPELINE?

Some seven deals are already at various stages of approval including the first - compressor company Lontra - which announced an agreement last month.

The Warwickshire-based firm is receiving a £5m grant and £2m loan from the MCA to help fund a £17m new factory in Doncaster opening in 2022 and create 300 jobs.

Steve Lindsey, executive chair of Lontra, said then: “We are thrilled to open our first factory in the region with the support of South Yorkshire MCA. This is a region that’s incredibly progressive and we are proud to be a part of their innovation story.

“We are honoured to bring a commitment of long-term innovation and economic growth for Lontra as a business and for South Yorkshire. This is fantastic example of how South Yorkshire MCA is supporting innovative SME’s to generate long term economic growth, high value job creation and drive UK exports.”

In December last year, Lontra also received a £1.58m grant from the MCA’s Local Growth Fund to establish a digital services centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe, set to create 53 jobs by 2024.

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