The chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) is to stand down when his current term of office ends this spring.
Jonathan Browning, who joined the organisation in 2014, will be handing over the reins in April.
He will also be relinquishing his roles as chair of the CWLEP Programme Delivery Board, being a member of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board and chair of the WMCA’s Strategic Economic Development Board.
Jonathan is a globally-recognised figure in the automotive industry and joined the CWLEP after three years as President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. His career has spanned the breadth of the industry across multiple countries and regions, working in locations ranging from Turkey to Switzerland and from Germany to the USA, as well as numerous parts of the UK.
He said: “When I returned to Warwickshire and joined the CWLEP in 2014, my impression was that the area had many strengths but there wasn’t a joined-up approach and that was holding us back from realising our potential.
“That is no longer the case as there is much greater collaboration between the private and public sector which has led to tangible success which is moving Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy forward.
“A perfect example is the partnership working between the CWLEP, Coventry City Council and WMG at the University of Warwick which led to the area winning a competition to build the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre which will open near Coventry next spring.
“The CWLEP has also made great strides over the last six years as we have been identified as one of the top three LEPs in the country and we have now attracted more than £330 million of funding to Coventry and Warwickshire.
“I would like to thank the CWLEP’s executive team, the voluntary hard work of our board of directors and business groups and the support of our partners in local authorities, business organisations and companies across the area over the last six years.”
Jonathan holds a degree in Industrial Economics from Nottingham University, an MBA from Duke University in the USA and in 2017 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration by Coventry University for his services to the global automotive industry.
He is also a former chairman of British Cycling, and is currently non-executive directors of the AUTO1 Group based in Germany and the Organising Committee of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Jonathan’s decision has led to praise for the difference he has made during his time at the helm of the CWLEP from leading figures in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Prof Sir Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive, said: “We have worked very closely with the CWLEP over recent years and appreciate its work supporting Jaguar Land Rover’s activities in Coventry and Warwickshire. The LEP has been a driving force in the local and regional economy, ensuring that this area punches above its weight at national and international level.
“Jonathan Browning perfectly understands the industrial and commercial mix of this area and his background at a high level in the global automotive industry has been invaluable. He has been a real champion for growth, with very tangible results, particularly in the important field of R&D and engineering.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “Jonathan has played a vital role in helping the Coventry and Warwickshire economy develop so strongly in recent years.
“He has been a very positive chair who has overseen and helped foster a very strong bond between all partners from different areas and sectors, to help ensure that we achieve shared aims for the good of the area and that our voice is heard at a wider regional and national level.
“That leadership will be sorely missed, but he leaves us in a very strong position to continue to make a positive impact for all our residents and businesses.”
Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said: "Jonathan’s work with the CWLEP and the bonds he helped build with the City Council and other partners, has played a key role in helping to unlock the great potential of Coventry and Warwickshire.
“His business expertise has been invaluable in identifying the projects and the finance to put us at the forefront of today's new hi-tech industries, including the leading role he played in helping us secure the multi-million pound UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, which will keep our motor city at the heart of the changing automotive industry for years to come.
“Jonathan will be greatly missed and we would like to thank him for all he has done for the city of Coventry and its people and wish him well in his future adventures.”
Nick Abell, vice-chair of the CWLEP, said the CWLEP has made great strides under Jonathan’s leadership.
He said: “Jonathan’s drive, vision and ambition has been instrumental in creating an area which is making a real difference to the benefit of those who live and work in Coventry and Warwickshire.
“He has been an excellent leader over the last six years and we have benefited from his business acumen and I would like to thank him for his voluntary contribution in taking the area forward on many levels.
“We are now tasked with finding his replacement and with Coventry being UK City of Culture in 2021 followed by the Commonwealth Games in 2022, there are many exciting opportunities on the horizon that we must maximise for the benefit of Coventry and Warwickshire.”
Caption: Jonathan Browning, chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership