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AgustaWestland hopes for major cash injection announcement

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: October 18, 2012

Government support for UK production of AgustaWestland’s civilian helicopters would be a “game changer” says Yeovil MP David Laws

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A multi-million pound boost to Yeovil’s biggest employer could be announced within days, the Western Gazette understands.

AgustaWestland has bid for a large slice of Government money that would help them to set up a world-class civil helicopter operation at its Yeovil plant.

Whitehall sources this week said it would be one of the biggest cash injections to the region in the next few years, if the grant was successful.

The firm, which employs 3,500 at its Lysander Road base, hopes a new range of civilian aircraft aimed at the search and rescue, emergency service, and private sector markets will secure and create thousands of jobs.

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Previously, the company was mainly reliant on military aircraft orders.

This week, AgustaWestland refused to speculate on any announcement on the latest round of the Government’s Regional Growth Fund which will see £1billion ploughed into businesses around the country with the aim to create work and stimulate the economy.

Yeovil MP David Laws said the result of the firm’s application was unknown.

He said: “I am aware of the fact that AgustaWestland has made a very significant bid for support from the Regional Growth Fund.

“No announcements have been made on this by the Government but I am very supportive of the work that Westland is doing to nurture and grow a big civil helicopter programme in Yeovil.

“Success in the Regional Growth Fund process could be a real game-changer for AgustaWestland’s future and for securing jobs and orders in the Yeovil and south Somerset economy.

“Obviously, none of us can know the outcome of this process, but everybody in Yeovil is hoping Westland will be successful because it impacts not just on their business but on all the other parts of the local economy which benefits from having a business off this size and profitability.”

At the Farnborough Air Show in July, the company unveiled its civilian helicopter range, including the AW169 which received a £32million boost from the Government and the AW189 which is hoped to generate £2billion in orders and become the first British-manufactured civilian helicopter to be exported in years.

The AW189’s production could create 1,500 jobs.

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