Major factories could grow again in Telford
The new Magna factory at T54 is very much the flagship project in Shropshire's business community at the moment.
But it could be one of a number of major inward investments which will shape the economic future of the borough – as well as the financial performance of its local authority.
The plant is being built to support Jaguar Land Rover's need for structural castings for its cars, and was built in Telford with an eye on the town's proximity to the automotive giant's assembly plant at Castle Bromwich.
However, while the 225,000 sq ft plant is among the biggest in Shropshire, it may not be the end of the company's investment in the town.
"The building you see is the initial plant, phase one," said James Dunn, the council’s service delivery manager for regeneration and investment.
"They have ambitions to grow but that depends on future contracts.
"The initial development is for 300 jobs and we are working with Magna to help deliver those."
The thriving automotive industry is a key part of the current run of investments in Telford, which has also seen plastic parts supplier Polytec working on an initial project in the town.
"We are seeing a lot of JLR's supply chain activity," Mr Dunn added.
"Of the interest we are getting, 30 to 40 per cent is automotive based.
"We are seeing a good mixture of existing businesses growing in Telford and inward investment as well.
"You don't get many Magnas, but we are seeing other companies moving in from the region as well.
"The Land Deal I think highlights what we have brought together between private businesses, the Homes and Communities Agency and ourselves, to work together to make that up front investment in sites a reality."
The means of enticing businesses into Telford has also seen the council investing loaned money into electricity supplies, and buying up land to earmark it for future developments.
That includes for Magna, which would allow it to expand again on property beside the factory which is currently taking shape on the skyline of the eastern end of town.
T54 was for some time, and in its previous life as Telford's science park at Nedge Hill, home to measurement systems group Torus.
The relocation of oil mist extractor manufacturer Filtermist from Bridgnorth began a run of bespoke builds on the site, which has included Magna and Polytec's arrival.
The Austrian company also half of the neighbouring plot, and could expand onto that site as the business progresses.
The next phase of T54 is also now being considered, and that could mean more larger companies moving onto the site, which neighbours one of Telford's existing major business estates in Stafford Park.
Hortonwood West is also becoming an increasingly important employment site, with two large buildings already taking shape as part of an extension to the established industrial area.
Morris Property, which also worked on the Filtermist factory and others on T54, is putting the finishing touches to Rosewood Pet Products, while a neighbouring building's new occupier is expected to be announced next month.
In total, 650,000 sq ft of industrial space is due to be built across the new Hortonwood West.
A number of occupiers are also looking at those sites, with some already signed on the dotted line and preparing to start work.
It's all based on a strategy which need not be exclusive to Telford, according to bosses at the authority.
Council development manager Katherine Kynaston said: "The fundamental principle of preparing sites for the market, derisking them and removing the things that hold investors back are things that can apply across the piece.
"It's having the willingness to invest up front. There's a level of risk involved but it's rise based on quite detailed market intelligence.
"There's a whole package of support we are offering aside from just the acquisition of the sites – things like the Business In Telford design and build team."