Two major milestones have been celebrated at a key event marking some of Stoke-on-Trent’s greatest achievements.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council was joined by more than 180 VIPs, partners and representatives from some of the city’s biggest employers for the Etruria Valley Grand Celebration on Wednesday 11 January.
The event celebrated the ongoing success of the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone and the completion of the Etruria Valley Link Road.
The road connects the A500 at Wolstanton to Etruria Valley and the wider Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone which has welcomed more than 40 businesses and 3,000 new jobs since 2016.
On completion, the enterprise zone – which is one of the most successful in the country – will add more than £48 million GVA to the local economy.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said: “I had to fight very hard to be heard and to get our plans for Ceramic Valley off the ground.
“I was warned that we were biting off more than we could chew, and that the enterprise zone would stall through lack of interest, but instead, when Ceramic Valley went live in April 2016, we were instantly bombarded with enquiries.
“Within three years, Ceramic Valley had become one of the most successful enterprise zones in the country and today, I’m extremely proud to say that we have built out 50 per cent of the available development land - that’s 1.5 million square feet of commercial floorspace across the Chatterley Valley East, Etruria Valley, Tunstall Arrow and Highgate Ravensdale sites.
“Few things give me greater satisfaction than being able to confound negative views and low aspirations about our fantastic city, and Ceramic Valley has certainly done that.
“The story of our enterprise zone has been a metaphor for our small but mighty city – a united cluster of six places triumphing over adversity through courage, determination, leadership and collaboration.”
Sarwjit Sambhi, Chief Executive Officer at St Modwen - which has transformed the flagship Etruria Valley site over the last six years - said: “St. Modwen was founded in Staffordshire over 30 years ago and has a proud history in the region regenerating sites for leisure, retail, new homes and space for businesses. Over the past three years alone, we have invested nearly £70 million in Stoke-on-Trent to unlock the potential for 1,000 jobs by creating new spaces for growing businesses.
“Stoke-on-Trent is a key location for many UK growth businesses and the opening of the Etruria Valley Link Road gives our customers at St. Modwen Park Stoke Central even quicker access to the country’s key transport infrastructure network, giving them an operational advantage.
“To that end, we are delighted to welcome Overclockers UK, National Veterinary Services and Emerge Global to St. Modwen Park Stoke Central, where they can continue to play a vital role in the region’s economic success."
Guests were later invited to a ribbon cutting to mark the official completion of the Etruria Valley Link Road which is due to open on Monday 23 January.
The new road – which has been delivered by Balfour Beatty - is one of the biggest transport infrastructure projects to be completed in the city in decades and represents a £43 million investment in the future of Stoke-on-Trent.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “The Etruria Valley Link Road and the development around it demonstrates what we can do, when partners across all sectors work together.
“It has been an investment of over £43 million and what are we getting for our money? We’re getting stronger connectivity and a new route between the city and the neighbouring borough. It will also reduce local congestion and congestion along the A500, making logistics easier, quicker and cheaper.
“It is a mixture of city council, LEP and central government investment that will pay dividends to the local economy over the course of the next century.”
A brand-new piece of public art was also unveiled at the event in the form of a Spitfire. The sculpture – which has been installed on the new roundabout next to the Etruria Valley Link Road - has been gifted to the city by KMF and funded through the work of partners, with Stoke-on-Trent City Council supporting the preparation of the site ready for installation.
Gareth Higgins, managing director at KMF, said: “We would like to thank Stoke-on-Trent City Council for the unique opportunity to showcase the skills of our apprentices through the construction of the Spitfire sculpture.
“The sculpture design gives a nod to the great history of Stoke-on-Trent but has been built by apprentices with the skills we need for the future.
“We are proud to have created a legacy for the city and hopefully it will inspire future generations of engineers.”
The Etruria Valley Grand Celebration Event comes as Stoke-on-Trent City Council prepares to launch the Stoke-on-Trent Growth Company - a brand new, bespoke approach to achieving its economic goals for the city.
Made up of five key themes – Invest, Support, Employ, Visit, Create - the Stoke-on-Trent Growth Company will bring together all the relevant council functions needed to drive economic development into a single team.
Its aim is to use the partnerships and institutions that exist within the city to create and deliver a more joined-up approach to economic growth and unlock the city’s full potential.
Councillor Abi Brown said: “I’m very excited about this innovative and ambitious venture.
“It will unlock massive benefits for our city and our local economy and revolutionise Stoke-on-Trent’s relationship with businesses and investors.
“We have proved in the last three years that we have the vision, the plans, the leadership and the determination to propel our city to a better, more prosperous future and I believe that the Stoke-on-Trent Growth Company will allow us to continue our great work - and build on it.”