Why aren't we talking about this?
Leicestershire firm is planning to create 2,000 jobs with £250m HQ expansion
A firm is planning to create 2,000 jobs in a massive expansion of its vehicle research and testing centre.
The announcement by the Motor Industry Research Association (Mira), which is planning to invest £250 million developing its headquarters near Hinckley, came as a welcome boost for the county on the same day as the full impact of the loss of another major employer was spelled out.
Closure of AstraZeneca's plant in Loughborough next year could take more than £31 million out of the local economy each year as the spending power of the company and its 1,300 employees disappears, according to a report by East Midlands Development Agency (Emda).
Mira, which provides research and testing services for the automotive industry at Higham on the Hill, said 2,000 jobs could be created over the next 10 years.
The plan's focus is the development of an engineering centre and an improved technology park within Mira's 750-acre site, off the A5.
Terry Spall, commercial director for Mira Technology Park Ltd, said the project would see buildings dating from the 1950s replaced by modern workshops, laboratories and offices.
He said: "While our work is at the cutting edge of what is possible, we have many buildings, including our main office block, that are environmentally inefficient and far from ideal.
"We are in danger of missing business opportunities as a result."
Mira employs 450 people at its headquarters, mainly engineers and technicians. The new jobs will be created across the redeveloped site.
Mr Spall said: "Our technology park, which is home to 32 world-class companies, including Toyota, Jaguar and Land Rover, has also reached its capacity. This expansion will allow us to lay the foundations for growth. We have an order book worth £41 million a year but believe we can become a £100 million business."
Discussions have begun with Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and residents to refine the plans, which include cycle paths and sports facilities open to the public.
A planning application should be submitted by the end of the year. If approved, work would be completed in 2013.
Council leader Stuart Bray said: "Mira's plans represent a huge boost for jobs in Hinckley and Bosworth as well as being really good news for the regional economy."
Meanwhile, Emda's consultants yesterday said the worst-case scenario of AstraZeneca's decision to quit Loughborough would be £31.1 million lost annually from Charnwood, Hinckley, North West Leicestershire and Rushcliffe.
The wider cost to the East Midlands could be £51.4 million.
Mike Carr, of Emda, is chairman of a task force set up try to limit the economic impact of AstraZeneca's closure.
He said: "We are talking some big numbers – but that supposes there will be no activity on AstraZeneca's site when it leaves.
"We are entering a critical period now as we try to find a use that will provide high-quality jobs."
Emda reported 400 AstraZeneca staff had applied to be re-deployed to the firm's other sites, though only 250 posts will be available.
Nearly 40 had been allowed to leave to take up new jobs, 150 could retire and 100 said they would like to start a business.
Company spokesman Rodger McMillian said: "We are working with our staff to hold careers fairs and help them with retraining for a new career."
He said there had been interest in buying the 69-acre site.