Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport is just one of the growth areas being looked at in the aerospace sector
Plans to drive forward development at Prestwick in the aerospace and space hub sectors is to benefit from a major new project. South Ayrshire Council has agreed to joint fund a two-year support package designed to build Prestwick's momentum as one of the UK's leading aerospace clusters.
Almost quarter of a million pounds will be invested to develop Prestwick's aerospace sector as part of work driven by the Prestwick Aerospace partnership. South Ayrshire Council has approved £120,000 from an existing budget, a figure which is being matched by Scottish Enterprise.
The money will be used to pay for a comprehensive development programme, that includes infrastructure, business development, energy reduction, and supply chain development. As part of this approach a new Programme Manager will work with a broad range of partner organisations*. Glasgow Prestwick Airport (GPA) will provide office and admin support, with the successful candidate to be based at the airport.
Progress is already being made in this sector with the new Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport now a step closer to becoming a reality. The Department for Transport recently announced it was setting up a regulatory framework to license individual sites, which could lead to a network of spaceports being set up around the UK. Prestwick is a frontrunner to become one of the first and, should a license be granted, the project is forecast to deliver up to 1450 jobs in a ten year period, and up to £320 million of additional economic activity.
Eileen Howat, South Ayrshire Council's Chief Executive said the time was right for fresh investment, "Aerospace is already a vital sector for the Ayrshire and Scottish economy and we're now entering an exciting phase where we need to push forward our ambitious plans for Prestwick.
"Recent news of the licensing framework for spaceports means that Prestwick stands the best chance of being the UK's first commercial hubs to service growing demand for industrial and tourism space related services.
"But to achieve wider growth in the aerospace sector we need to invest, and as part of a wider approach, we're looking to secure an exceptional individual to help accelerate jobs growth and attract investment, and I think this new appointment will do just that."
Ayrshire is currently home to 3,200 aerospace workers, with 5% growth forecasts suggesting the figure could rise by 2,000 in the next ten years. Taking additional spaceport jobs into consideration, total employment at Prestwick could rise to 6,650 by 2028, an increase of 108% over 10 years.
Allan McQuade, Business Infrastructure Director, Scottish Enterprise, said: "Prestwick could soon become a world leader in an emerging market, we want to help create an environment that delivers competitive advantage for the Scottish aerospace industry, while also driving innovation in the aerospace and space industries.
"The forecasts already point to strong growth for Prestwick but the hard work starts now if we are to steal a march on competitors from across the UK.
"While Ayrshire is already home to a thriving aerospace industry, we need to identify new partners from across the world to complement our capabilities here, as we work towards fully realising our wider ambitions."
The targeted investment will help drive growth by managing a diverse programme of work in areas including: infrastructure for space commercial development; inward investment by targeting prospects and bringing fresh business to Ayrshire; supply chain development; and skills, by ensuring employer needs are met through education.