Hundreds of new 
jobs as firm nets £2m grant boost

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AROUND 300 new jobs are set to be created at a Wakefield manufacturing company thanks to a £2.7m government funding boost.

Bosses at Harvard Engineering say the Regional Growth Fund cash means the company will be able to expand manufacturing of LED and street lighting control systems at Normanton Industrial Estate..

Normanton MP Yvette Cooper has welcomed the cash injection to create new jobs.

However, the Shadow Home Secretary is also calling on the Government to offer more practical help to enable businesses in her constituency to grow.

Harvard Engineering finance director Martin Baum said the 300 jobs will be created over the next five years.

Mr Baum said: “We draw 90 per cent of our workforce from the immediate location. Over the next five years this grant is going to create 300 more jobs in all areas of our business, from research and development, right the way through the business to shop floor production work.

“We are really pleased. It will allow us to invest money in further machinery and automation in our factory, which means we don’t have to send the manufacturing of the product to the Far East or Eastern Europe. We can keep the manufacturing here in the Wakefield district.”

The company – which moved to Normanton from a site in Beeston, Leeds, 18 months ago – has turned over £26m since last November. As well as commercial Led lighting systems, it creates wireless street lighting control systems for local authorities and bespoke lighting systems.

Normanton, Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley MP Ms Cooper, said: “These new jobs will be really important in Normanton – especially after the jobs that have been lost.

“But the problem is this investment from the Regional Growth Fund is so much less than Yorkshire Forward used to invest before they were abolished, and businesses still need practical help to grow.

“Businesses round here are still struggling to recover because of the double dip recession, long term unemployment has risen by nearly 600 per cent since the start of the recession in 2008 and is still rising.”

“But Yorkshire businesses are getting much less help than before, and they are growing less quickly too.”

“Yorkshire Forward used to invest over £250m to support businesses in our region, and that delivered more in terms of jobs, economic growth and also tax revenues for the Government too.

Wakefield companies will also benefit from two Leeds City Region programmes that have secured Regional Growth Funding.

The Key Growth Clusters Programme will provide grants of between £100,000 and £1m.

It will help businesses from across the Leeds City Region to grow by supporting investment in new equipment, infrastructure or research and development activity.

The SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) Employment Growth Programme is a small grants programme seeking to invest between £10,000 and £100,000 in SMEs in the priority growth clusters. Funds will be available for approximately 200 SMEs.

Wakefield Council has worked closely with the Leeds City region to develop the bids.

Wakefield Council has also submitted a bid to European Regional Development Fund to match the Regional Growth Fund to extend the size of the scheme in Wakefield. Coun Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic growth, said: “This funding is good news for the district. Boosting small and medium size companies is critical to creating more jobs in the district. These grants from the Regional Growth Fund will help us deliver our Jobs and Growth Plan for the district.”