The first businesses have moved in to Warton’s Enterprise Zone – just a week after similar status was granted to Blackpool Airport.
The Lancashire Enterprise Zones based around BAE’s bases at Warton and Samlesbury, east of Preston, aim to create thousands of new high skilled jobs over the coming years but have attracted criticism as they have yet to create a single new job.
But now the first companies have arrived at Warton in a move welcomed by local MP Mark Menzies.
Global management consultancy, technology and outsourcing giant Accenture has opened an office which will specialise in providing business systems.
It is joined by worldwide specialists in calibration and asset management services, Trescal, which works with global leaders in industries such as aerospace, automotive and defence.
The two have so far brought 22 jobs to the Enterprise Zone – 15 with Accenture and seven with Trescal – with the potential for more in the future.
Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are delighted to welcome our first tenants to the enterprise zone site in Warton.
“The combination of excellent location, high-quality infrastructure and proximity to Lancashire’s world-class advanced engineering and manufacturing sector is a very attractive offer, particularly when combined with business rate relief, and I am sure that these two multi-nationals will be the first of many.
“We expect the enterprise zone, over its three sites in Warton, Samlesbury and Blackpool, to create 6,000 jobs directly, with a further 5,000 to 7,000 in the local supply chain. It will form a centre of excellence for high technology manufacturing, generating wealth-creating benefits for the whole county.”
Andrew Roberton, senior manager, aerospace and defence at Accenture, said: “The Warton office is initially expected to have a capacity of 20 staff, providing a range of management consulting and technology services to clients in the region. The Warton site also provides the opportunity to grow the size of the facility over the coming years.”
Mark Menzies visited Accenture at Warton and became the first person to sign the visitor’s book.
He spoke to Mr Roberton who said the enterprise zone was the perfect location for the company’s North West office due to its proximity to BAE Systems, with which it has close ties.
Mr Menzies said: “This is the culmination of years of hard work since I first lobbied the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an enterprise zone at Warton following the announcement of redundancies at BAE Systems in 2011.
“To now visit the site and see high quality businesses having moved on and staff working out of their new offices is fantastic.
“While movement on this project has been slow, I would now expect more and more companies to be looking to take advantage of the specific benefits offered in relocating to an enterprise zone including business rate and tax relief, streamlined planning approvals and world-class infrastructure and technology services.”