A NEW Barrow business park has boosted the local economy by £3m and created 31 new jobs.
Initial infrastructure and site preparation works started on the Ramsden Business Park in mid-October.
It is the first part of the three-phase Waterfront Business Park, which should create at least 1,500 jobs.
Urban regeneration firm West Lakes Renaissance says targets for employment and use of local firms for the site works have already been exceeded.
At present there are 31 people working to prepare the business park for development, which is five more than originally anticipated.
Meanwhile, there are 17 local firms employed on the project, seven more than first expected.
Local spend in the area – which is the value of local contracts with companies in Barrow and the surrounding area – is estimated to be £3m.
And interest is high among several developers who will take Ramsden Business Park forward by putting up buildings once the land has been prepared and roads and services have been put in place.
The deadline has now passed for expressions of interest and the process of selecting a preferred developer to create 19,770 square metres of business accommodation is now under way.
Funding needed to secure the site preparation project came from the Northwest Regional Development Agency, which is investing £8m, and £3m from the European Regional Development Fund.
The site was purchased from Associated British Ports by Cumbria County Council.
The council also appointed contractor Alfred McAlpine to carry out initial infrastructure and remediation work with Capita Symonds to design the works.
Once built, the Waterfront Business Park is expected create 1,500 jobs over the next 10 years to help diversify the Furness economy by catering for a whole spectrum of businesses.
This would range from office accommodation, research and development to industrial, storage, warehousing and distribution.
Dennis Laird, Ramsden Business Park project manager for West Lakes Renaissance, said: “Ramsden Business Park will have a significant impact on Barrow’s economy by creating 1,500 new jobs.
“However, the impact on employment, local business and local communities during the construction phase is often overlooked.
“This is why it is hugely encouraging that we have exceeded these targets and that the business park is already having a positive impact on local people and the local economy.”
Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member responsible for economic development and regeneration, said: “The pace of development at the Ramsden Business Park has been impressive.
“Local firms are winning vital business, new jobs are being created locally and the whole Barrow community is getting behind this major project.”
Dave Hill, project director for Alfred McAlpine, said: “Works are progressing well.
“Training of the local labour force has also been initiated in the hope of improving each individual’s employment prospects in the longer term.”