With manufacturing accounting for 14.1% of all employment across the Marches, the region has not lost sight of its heritage as the birthplace of industry. 36,700 people are employed in a wide range of sub-sets of manufacturing including food and drink manufacturing, fabricated metal productions, rubber, polymers and machinery/equipment manufacturing.
Telford itself is recognised as a beacon for attracting leading edge companies in the polymer industry and has been known around the world as “Polymer Valley” since the 1980s. Key polymer players already here include Bischof & Klein, Cedo UK, Craemer Environmental Systems and Smithers RAPRA.
Automotive manufacturing employs 3,400 people in the region and benefits from the following unique selling points which have enabled the Marches region to continue to attract significant investment in this area:
– Availability of quality sites;
– Proximity to the M54 which links to the rest of the national motorway network;
– Nearby i54 site, home to Jaguar Landrover’s (JLR) new engine plant.
i54 in particular represents a major opportunity for Marches manufacturers, a number of whom are already tier one suppliers, to do more business with JLR and puts the Marches in a prime position in terms of future inward investment sites for the automotive industry. The region already boasts a number of automotive component manufacturers, machinery and equipment manufacturing and metal fabricators including: BAE Systems (Engineering, Combat Vehicles UK); Bridgnorth Aluminium; Caterpillar; Denso; Doncasters Group Ltd; GEA Denco; Grainger & Worrall; Holden Aluminium Technologies; H.R.Smith Group; Jenvey; KGD; Special Metals Wiggins and Stadco.
The University of Wolverhampton’s Telford Innovation Campus, located next to the main business parks of Telford, currently houses: Research; Business Engagement; Process & Product Development; Education; CPD and training activities. It is home to some 300 students studying engineering-based courses as well as around 50 businesses.
Approximately £12m is currently being invested in the campus to create new state-of-the-art facilities and courses to help create the next generation of skilled engineers in response to the regional and national shortage of qualified engineering graduates. The majority of the investment will go into providing specialist equipment which will include creating a design and visualisation facility, a Formula 1 specification wind tunnel, engine test facilities, 3D printing facilities and laboratories dedicated to electronics and telecommunications, metrology and materials testing.
Other key players in this sector include: