The HotSW aerospace industry is set in steel after a milestone was reached in construction of the cutting-edge aerospace innovation centre in Yeovil.
Partners in the iAero Centre initiative visited the construction site and signed a steel column at a special ceremony on 5 March as work on the construction of the Centre progresses on target.
Somerset County Council is working with the aerospace industry, including Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil and wider local partners on the flagship iAero Centre to cement Somerset’s place at the heart of this important business sector. The LEP has granted £3.83m from the Growth Deal fund to the iAero project, which will bring economic benefits to the whole of the Heart of the South West area.
The iAero Centre will encourage innovation, collaboration and growth in the aerospace sector and supply chain, ensuring it remains competitive in a fast-changing world.
Construction contractors Willmott Dixon started work on the site, owned by Leonardo Helicopters, in late summer 2019 and the centre construction is due to be completed later this year. Fitting out will follow and the centre is due to fully open in 2021.
Sarah Cook, Leonardo Vice President for UK Government Business & Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Board Member, said: “This is a truly exciting time, seeing this facility coming to fruition. It is a fantastic piece of architecture and a visible signal that puts Yeovil on the map as a key centre of innovation in the aerospace sector in the UK.
“As the world faces an increasing climate emergency – innovation, technology and skill will be needed to rise to the challenges of our modern world. iAero will bring together partnerships, people and projects under one roof. Cutting-edge ideas and dynamic technologies will form the research, development and innovation that takes place; exploring and experimenting, utilising and developing skills. The future will be created here and that creates a prosperous future for our wider community.”
Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “I’m very pleased to see yet another of our Growth Deal funded projects get under way. This new centre will be a flagship facility for maximising on our area’s strengths in the aerospace sector and in innovation and knowledge-based industries. We’ve put £3.4m into this new facility, and we look forward to an ongoing collaboration with partners when iAero opens.”
Councillor David Hall, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “Signing the steel column marks a significant milestone in this major and exciting project. Aerospace is one of our county’s most important areas of manufacturing.
“Aerospace is a global industry and we intend to make sure Somerset continues to be recognised as the destination of choice for aerospace businesses to locate, interact, grow and innovate.
“The iAero Centre will help us secure the future of a strategically important industry in our county and indeed in the country. In developing this facility, we are investing in Somerset jobs prospects, future economic prosperity and the UK’s aerospace industry. Prosperity, and a thriving sustainable economy helps pay for all the essential services the County Council provides, and I am delighted to be associated with this project.”
Rob Woolcock, Director Willmott Dixon, said: ‘’It is great to celebrate this important milestone today, as it represents the hard work and dedication of the whole team involved in delivering the project.
“When completed, the new Centre will have a significant impact on the region, however its impact can already be felt through the training and engagement opportunities provided to date. So far, we have engaged with over 850 local young people, with 35 of them visiting site here to learn about the project and what we are doing. We have also welcomed 3 work experience placements from Yeovil College and provided employment to several long-term unemployed individuals.
“This work is important to us as a business, as we want to make sure that our projects deliver the greatest impact for the local community, and they help inspire the next generation.”
The project is being funded by Somerset County Council, the European Regional Development Fund and, through the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal, Government’s Local Growth Fund.