Businesses and other key sectors across the West Midlands were today (Friday October 12) invited to have their say on how to build on recent success and ensure a regional economy fit for the future.
A five-week consultation has been launched to gather views on how to release and nurture the region’s economic potential and harness its strengths to meet the challenges and opportunities of a post-Brexit, technology-driven world.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council and portfolio holder for economic growth on the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), urged the business community and partners to give their views on the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy Consultation document and help shape the future prosperity of the region.
With more than £4.5billion of investment in infrastructure, skills training and housing already lined up for the region over the next decade and opportunities for a further £10billion, the Local Industrial Strategy will channel that investment so it generates the maximum benefit for both businesses and local people.
The document is the result of several months of careful research and evidence gathering led by the WMCA and the region’s three local enterprise partnerships – Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham & Solihull.
The Mayor said: “We have a long and proud industrial heritage but now need to cement our place at the cutting edge of a new industrial revolution driven by technology.
“The good news is that we are already home to some of the world’s most competitive and innovative companies in sectors such as advanced manufacturing and medical research and development (life sciences). We also lead the way globally in electric and autonomous vehicle development and have strong digital and light rail industries.
“Our goal is to build on recent success to continue to create an economy that works for everyone – one that delivers decent, well-paid jobs for local people and the right conditions for competitive, world-leading businesses to thrive and grow.
“But this needs to be a strategy by business for business which is why it’s important that companies and organisations give their views on how to secure a prosperous future.”
Cllr Ward added: "The West Midlands has always been a hotbed of creativity and our challenge now is to nurture the cutting edge companies and advanced manufacturers that play an increasingly vital role in our regional economy.
"But growth alone will not be enough. The Local Industrial Strategy must be about creating inclusive economic growth across the West Midlands and we must ensure that people have the skills needed to fill the new jobs being created.
"This strategy is about driving up productivity and growing our regional economy in a way that can bring greater prosperity to all our communities. We must give people a real stake in our future success."
The WMCA and three LEPs have worked closely with key organisations across the private, public, academic and voluntary sectors as well as government to identify the big business opportunities and strengths of the West Midlands.
The consultation document highlights the region’s position as:
- The UK centre for innovation in new forms of transport such as electric vehicles, connected and autonomonous vehicles (CAV) and battery manufacture.
- A global leader for testing and bringing on stream new medicines and health devices
- The biggest financial and professional services cluster outside London
- A top location for the creative sector with world leaders in gaming and innovative content producers for new platforms
Jonathan Browning, chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and chair of the Strategic Economic Development Board, said: “This is a perfect opportunity to support future investment opportunities in Coventry and Warwickshire by aligning with the wider long-term strategy of the West Midlands.
“It will be particularly pertinent to further strengthen our links in the automotive and rail sectors and the creative and gaming industry in which we are recognised as global leaders.
“The West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy is focused on driving productivity and growth and this consultation gives people the perfect opportunity to have their say on the region’s development.”
Tim Pile, chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Our Local Industrial Strategy has been developed to reflect the unique strengths and benefits of operating in the West Midlands. It is designed to build on this region’s distinctive heritage and expertise, whilst identifying the future opportunities that will help us realise this region’s full economic potential.
“Having identified the West Midlands’ sectors of strength, GBSLEP has been working with our partners to ensure that the Strategy identifies practical ways to boost innovation, productivity, job creation and growth across a range of valuable industries.
“I’d encourage all businesses from Greater Birmingham, and the wider West Midlands, to share their views on how we can help our economy continue to thrive and grow.”
Ninder Johal, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership Board Member, said: “The Black Country economy continues to grow and we are working alongside our WMCA partners to ensure this growth is region wide ensuring we are collectively investing in key sectors such as high value manufacturing, sectors where the Black Country is already leading the way nationally.
“This consultation is a real moment for businesses from across the Black Country, and the whole region, to have their say on a long-term strategy for investment in infrastructure, skills training and housing which will be of benefit for both business and local people. I urge companies and organisations to have their say.”
The West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy Consultation document and the consultation survey, which ends on Thursday November 15 can be found at www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/industrial-strategy/