Hereford Enterprise Zone sets its sights on US in new campaign

Defence and security companies in North America and Canada looking to expand their operations into Europe are being targeted in a new campaign by Hereford Enterprise Zone.

The international project has seen hundred of companies in the specialist sector involved in discussions with inward investment specialists, aiming to attract millions of pounds worth of investment into the Zone, Skylon Park.

The 72-hectare site at Rotherwas is the catalyst for economic growth across the Marches region, and has a key sector focus on defence and security building on Hereford’s unique association with UK special forces, as the home of the SAS.

Zone chairman Bill Jackson said: “Herefordshire is well-known throughout the UK and beyond its shores for its expertise in the defence and security sector. We wish to develop this specialism, which will create jobs for our people, skills for our workforce and opportunities for our supply chain.

“This new campaign is specifically targeting established and high-growth companies in this sector in the United States and Canada, as well as some in the UK and Europe. Our investment team is speaking with CEOs, chairs and managing directors of these companies, following up promising leads and this campaign will be rolled out to other niche areas of this sector in the coming weeks.

“The US has the largest defence market in the world – last year, the US defence budget stood at $645.7 billion. But the companies based there are looking to reduce their reliance on a home-grown market and actively looking for opportunities overseas.

“Our job is to make sure they not only choose the UK, but that they choose Skylon Park – a world-class business landscape, already benefiting from £20 million of completed infrastructure projects.”

The campaign was launched this month as Mr Jackson and members of the Enterprise Zone board unveiled the Skylon Park brochure, which will be used in the marketing campaign and is available as a download on the Zone’s website,

The initial focus of the project has included contacting more than 300 companies working in the C4ISTAR specialism of the sector, (Command, Control, Communications and Computers, Information/Intelligence, Surveillance and Targeting), Bio-Metrics and Cyber Security, and Defence Support Equipment.

Councillor Roger Phillips, cabinet member for economic development, Herefordshire Council, added: “We want to encourage these firms to invest in the Enterprise Zone, which means demonstrating why we are the best place in the UK to do business, if you’re in the business of defence and security. The fact that so many businesses in this sector are thriving here is proof of that.

“It is early days in the campaign but we’ve already received enquiries from overseas as a result of the initial work which I’ve no doubt will raise the profile of Herefordshire and the Enterprise Zone beyond thre shores of the UK.”

Skylon Park is the Enterprise Zone designated by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, achieving that status in August 2011.

It aims to generate 1,500 job opportunities by 2015, and 4,200 by 2022, delivering a visionary business park that provides high quality workspace, (134,000 sq metres by 2022) in a sustainable and landscaped, countryside setting.