Business leaders today joined the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in welcoming the government’s Industrial Strategy as a springboard for the region’s exceptional strengths.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and the chairs of the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) said the Strategy was a platform for a local industrial strategy for the Midlands.
The Mayor said: “We welcome the launch and will work together to develop a local industrial strategy for the West Midlands that signals a step change in collaboration across business, government and society.
Secretary of State for Business Greg Clark on a visit to the region with Mayor Andy Street
“It will create an environment where businesses can thrive and where everyone can access and feel the benefits of our shared economic success.”
In last week’s budget, government announced a second devolution deal with the WMCA to address local productivity barriers and devolve decisions to local people and places.
This second deal committed the Mayor and WMCA to producing a local industrial strategy for the region, bringing together social and economic ambitions to deliver inclusive growth.
Today’s national announcement sets the context for the next steps, recognising that those best placed to drive forward local economies are those who live, work and do business there.
The WMCA, led by the Mayor and supported by the LEPs, will aim for early progress ahead of the national timetable to agree Local Industrial Strategies by 2019.
Andy Street said: “This means leveraging our world-leading assets – our energy, talent and commitment to our region - and focusing on priority sectors where we can create and sustain jobs of the future.
“We will create the homes, transport links and public service innovation to better connect our communities to these jobs.
“We also recognise the importance of investing our people - the human capital - driving future growth through rapid progress on skills, wellbeing and the school-and-work readiness of our young people.
“Ulitmately it all adds up to delivering growth that is inclusive - making sure citizens across the region can both participate in and benefit from delivering a net benefit to business and society.”
Jonathan Browning, chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP and the WMCA Strategic Economic Plan Board, said: “This matches our ambitions for the future of Coventry and Warwickshire since we are focused on three key areas which fit in with the Industrial Strategy.
“We are determined to build on our global reputation in the automotive sector, particularly in battery and connected vehicle programmes, the digital industry in which we are very strong right across the patch, while we are also committed to investing in Coventry and our surrounding towns to improve transport and inward investment.
“It reinforces the intention of the WMCA, West Midlands Mayor and LEPs to work together to deliver this shared ambition for the region.”
The WMCA’s second devolution deal includes £6 million for a housing delivery taskforce and £5 million for a construction skills training scheme.
Prime Minister Theresa May visited Birmingham last Monday to announce a £250m boost for the West Midlands Combined Authority from the Transforming Cities Fund and the Mayor confirmed that would be used to extend the Midland Metro tram route from Wednesbury, through Dudley, to the DY5 Enterprise Zone at Brierley Hill.