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Multi-million plans announced to boost glass industry

Post Time:Mar 04,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:420

HOT after the sparkling success of the town’s third International Festival of Glass - ambitious £20m plans have been unveiled to boost glass-making skills and jobs in Stourbridge.

Thanks to a £9m grant from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, The Glasshouse arts centre and college at Amblecote can plough ahead with its plan to bring the historic site into the 21st century to provide extra space for jobs and businesses, training courses, a heritage trail, plus a new visitor attraction with viewing gallery and café.

As part of the scheme, which was unveiled during the Bank Holiday weekend glass festival, 24 new and refurbished specialist business units will be built which can be rented by the hour by glassworkers and artists.

The development at the Wollaston Road site will also create new jobs and attract businesses to the town.

Dr Richard Hutchins, corporate director for economic development at Advantage West Midlands, said: “The Glasshouse development will increase jobs creating wealth for the Black Country economy, while improving the quality of life of people living and working in the region.”

Janine Christley, director of the Ruskin Glass Centre - part of the Glasshouse arts centre and college, said winning the AWM grant was a huge step forwards towards making the overall £20m scheme a reality to allow glassmaking to continue at one of the last glass factories in the area.

She added: “We are taking on redundant glassmakers and getting them to work with young people to learn new skills. This funding from Advantage West Midlands will help us to develop a skilled workforce, as well as attracting the best talent to the region.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund has already pledged £2m towards the scheme and Glasshouse bosses hope the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will stump up the remainder of the cash.

Stourbridge MP Lynda Waltho said of the scheme: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Stourbridge to build on its reputation and heritage and create a hub for talent and enterprise, as well as a fascinating visitor attraction.”

Advantage West Midlands, which provided £100,000 towards the International Festival of Glass, is now backing the Ruskin Glass Centre’s drive to bid for a further £10m or so from the LSC.

Work is set to start next summer and, subject to further funding, is expected to be completed by autumn 2011.

Source: stourbridgenews.co.ukAuthor: shangyi

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