Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street was today joined by Business and Industry Minister Andrew Stephenson for the unveiling of a new Local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands – the first of its kind in the UK.
Launched at the region’s Advanced Propulsion Centre in Coventry, the local strategy builds on the strengths of the automotive, life sciences, creative and business services sectors at the heart of the regional economy to deliver inclusive growth and high-skilled jobs.
It comes alongside ambitious plans to develop the next generation of battery technology for electric vehicles at the UK’s flagship Battery Industrialisation Centre, backed by an additional £28 million investment.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, George Hull lead engineer at UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, Eve Wheeler-Jones PhD student at WMG and Minister for Business and Industry Andrew Stephenson at the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre under construction in Coventry
The West Midlands is the first ‘trailblazer’ region to agree a Local Industrial Strategy, a key enabler to deliver the government’s national Industrial Strategy, driving growth, productivity and boosting earning power across the region.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “The West Midlands is already home to the industries of tomorrow. We have some of the world’s most competitive and innovative companies in advanced manufacturing, electric and autonomous vehicle development and medical research.
“This Local Industrial Strategy also shows how we can become a global player in the digital and creative industries. The Strategy will build on these strengths to release the region’s full economic potential for the benefit of all communities across the entire West Midlands.
“It will help us tackle issues like air pollution and climate change while creating a robust economy for the future – one that delivers decent, well paid jobs for local people and the right conditions for competitive, world leading businesses to thrive and grow.”
Business minister Andrew Stephenson added: “The launch of this first Local Industrial Strategy in the West Midlands is testament to the local civic and business leadership in the region, builds on its continued success to ensure every community across the region reaches their potential.
“Our modern Industrial Strategy aims to boost productivity across the country by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase earning power. This Local Industrial Strategy is tailored to the specific challenges in the West Midlands, and will set an example for other regions to follow.
“Our funding for the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry is a key part of this, and will see a world-class facility developed in this automotive heartland, further cementing opportunities, growth and inward investment in the West Midlands.”
Government and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the new government-backed body responsible for UK investment in research and innovation, have provided extensive support to businesses and groups in the West Midlands, investing over £1billion in the West Midlands since 2016.
Productivity in the West Midlands grew at twice the rate of the UK average in 2018 and this new strategy – designed in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority, Local Enterprise Partnerships and developed in collaboration with hundreds of businesses, public partners and civil society – sets out how the region will work with Government to:
The West Midlands is the fastest growing UK region for goods exports, and the government’s national Industrial Strategy is further supporting economic growth and boosting local businesses through investments including:
Cllr Ian Ward, portfolio holder for economic growth with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "The West Midlands has always been a hotbed of creativity and innovation and it's appropriate that a region that was at the very heart of the Industrial Revolution is now leading the way with this ambitious Local Industrial Strategy.
"This is about unlocking innovation and business dynamism in every part of the region to ensure we build on our record of success and unlock our full potential.
“But it is also about making sure people have the skills needed to fill the new jobs being created.
"Acknowledging that growth alone will not be enough, this strategy aims to deliver inclusive growth, driving up productivity and growing our regional economy in a way that can bring greater opportunities and prosperity to all our communities."
Richard Butler, CBI West Midlands Director said: “As the first local industrial strategy to be launched, we hope the West Midlands Industrial Strategy will start a domino effect of robust strategies being rolled out across the country.
“It shows the real value of political leaders working with one another to unlock economic growth - creating jobs, driving productivity and improving living standards across communities.
“The West Midlands is well positioned to deal with the big challenges of tomorrow, with the Advanced Propulsion Centre delivering zero emission vehicles and the region’s development of the UK’s first multi-city 5G testing ground.
“The best way to build upon the strengths of the UK’s vibrant regions is for business and politicians to work closely together. Now is the time to redouble efforts on implementing the local industrial strategies, making their impact real to businesses and people across the country. Failure to address our stubbornly persistent productivity challenge is not an option.”
Today’s first Local Industrial Strategy comes as the Government holds the next round for its flagship Strength in Places Fund; a £236m fund that brings together research organisations, businesses, and local authorities to develop pioneering ideas that will deliver local economic growth and create high value.