AROUND 180 new jobs are going to be created in Worcestershire - after the county secured a £2.5 million 'bonus' from the Government.
Worcestershire County Council is celebrating after being handed a surprise cash boost.
The money has come from the Government's Regional Growth Fund, and will be made available to employers who want extra funds to grow and hire more staff.
The council's leadership has been working with Worcestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to lobby for some money from the fund, and was told yesterday of the award.
A new project is now kicking off, which will last 11 months, allowing firms to make bids of anywhere between £20,000 and £1 million to fund an expansion.
If all the money is used up, experts say it will bring in £7.5 million of new economic activity to Worcestershire and create 180 new jobs.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure said: "This new money will be a major boost for Worcestershire businesses, particularly those who seek significant levels of investment.
"The £2.5 million boost to local business will not only safeguard but create jobs, keeping Worcestershire open for business."
The LEP will work with the council in deciding which organisations get the money, which it is calling the Worcestershire Expansion Programme.
Chairman Peter Pawsey said: "The Worcestershire Expansion Programme will be essential to the Worcestershire LEP’s vision of economic growth by providing the finance for companies to realise their growth potential, create and safeguard jobs and contribute to the development of key sectors in the Worcestershire economy."
Under the guidelines, employers will be only be able to get money if they can guarantee it will create jobs before March 2015.
Those looking to expand into bigger premises, buy new equipment, train the workforce or use it for research and development stand the best chance of securing cash.
Bidders have until Friday, June 13 to make their initial bid.
The Government's pledge comes after Worcester Bosch, one of the city's biggest employers, decided against expanding 18 months ago and pulled out of plans to become the main anchor tenant at the planned Worcester Technology Park.
At the time the firm cited low confidence in the economy, but the park planned for land off Junction 6 of the M5 is still being built and talks are ongoing with interested employers about moving there.
The cash could be used to tempt firms to sign up and take up units at the site.