JCB jobs boosts 'struggling towns' of Cheadle and Uttoxeter
Plans by digger maker JCB to create 2,500 new jobs in Staffordshire is a "fantastic boost for the local economy," local traders have said.
The firm is to build a factory in Uttoxeter and a manufacturing plant in Cheadle as part of a £150m expansion.
David Hunter from the Uttoxeter Traders Forum said "it would bring more footfall and money into the town."
"A development like this brings work, new jobs and money and that encourages more investment in an area," he said.
The new factory in Uttoxeter will replace the JCB cab systems plant in Rugeley, which the company said it had "outgrown".
The firm said 350 employees from the site would be relocated to Uttoxeter.
'Pill to cure town'
Mr Hunter runs the Indulgence Coffee Lounge in Uttoxeter's Market Place.
He said the town had struggled through the recession but he felt it was now "going places".
"Like lots of market towns it's been through a transitional period but we've got money being spent on improving the A50, a new retail development at the back of the town hall, and now JCB," he said.
Market trader Ray Wood said it was a similar story in Cheadle, which "thrives on getting trade from JCB and Alton Towers."
The town was given £25,000 in April this year from the government's High Street Innovation Fund.
Mr Wood said: "All market towns in the country are struggling and Cheadle is no different but the money has been a catalyst really."
"There's no one pill that's going to cure the town. It's an ongoing thing and we're trying to draw support from different areas.
"These jobs will help us build on that. There will be more money in people's pockets to spend in the town."
He said workers from JCB used cafes and pubs in the town during their lunch breaks or after work.
JCB said it expected the growth from its Staffordshire factories to lead to an increase in component production at its other UK sites, in Foston, Derbyshire, and Wrexham.
Workers 'remember 2008'
Dr Ian Jackson, senior lecturer in economics at Staffordshire University said: "An Oxford economics survey has found is that for every job JCB produces there are three created in the supply chain.
"It's not just the qualified scientists and engineers that are being recruited, it's people in finance and insurance, it's apprentices, so it's an opportunity for people in the Staffordshire workforce who have a range of skills."
The planned expansion, which is subject to planning consent, also includes an increase in JCB's production operations in Rocester and relocation of its finance and insurance divisions in Rocester to new offices at nearby Denstone.
Gordon Richardson the GMB union representative at JCB said he hoped the 2,500 new jobs would be full-time posts and not given to agency workers.
He said: "The way the industry works, you tend to find that firms are taking on a lot of agency staff but I'm hopeful these will be permanent jobs.
"Some workers have still got 2008 and 2009 in the back of their minds, when JCB cut around 600 jobs, so we're very pleased about the news and brand new facilities for our members to work in."