I am delighted to say that following yesterday’s Midlands Engine Strategy announcement, Government have announced our allocation for Worcestershire’s Growth Deal 3, with over £17.5m to help us to create additional jobs, support businesses and encourage growth in the local area.
As part of our Growth Deal 3 allocation, we have committed funding for key projects including transport infrastructure improvements to the A38, the Pershore Northern Link Road and Churchfields Urban Village Highway, as well as a new engineering facility for Heart of Worcestershire College. I am sure that these new projects will provide a great boost to our growing local economy by boosting local connectivity and further raising the skills of our local workforce.
The latest Local Growth Fund allocation is in addition to the £54.2 million of Growth Deal funding already awarded to Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership which continues to deliver jobs and additional investment for the county. Our Growth Deal investments are making visible impacts across the county, including the opening of £16m Hoobrook Link Road in Kidderminster, work underway for Parkway Station and Pershore College’s recently announced launch of a ground-breaking Agri-tech STEM initiative.
All of these projects help to improve the fantastic business environment we have in the county and I am very happy to say that the latest research by Office of National Statistics shows that Worcestershire has achieved the strongest growth in productivity in recent years. Productivity is vitally important in helping local businesses to expand and there are funds currently available to support companies who are looking to create jobs and boost their innovation. The fourth round of the Worcestershire Growth Fund is now open and I would encourage all interested businesses to submit their applications before the 13 April deadline.
Finally, I am delighted to say that the nominations have now opened for this year’s Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards 2017. It’s great to see such strong support for the awards from our local businesses and apprentices and I would encourage you all to submit your nominations as early as possible. Government has also recently launched an online digital apprenticeship service to support the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and make finance management even easier. As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, now is the time to continue to get involved in apprenticeships and celebrate the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.