An ambitious plan to make the Midlands an engine of growth will be unveiled today (4 December 2015) at a special event at Birmingham University. The Midlands Engine prospectus - the first of its kind in the country - is the result of 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) coming together with their plan to boost productivity, attract inward investment, increase connectivity and build a regional tourism offer.
The new prospectus, supported by Business Secretary Sajid Javid, is focused on 5 key themes - skills, innovation, transport, promoting the ‘Engine’, and finance for business, and is part of the government’s wider plans to support jobs and growth. If the Midlands region matches the predicted growth rate for the UK over the next 15 years, it could create 300,000 jobs and boost the national economy by £34 billion.
Mr Javid also confirmed that the region will receive £5 million of support for a new trade and investment package to reach new markets and boost exports. He will lead the first Midlands Engine trade mission next year to promote the region to investors and trade partners, delivering more growth, exports and jobs.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:
The Midlands is the heartland of our thriving manufacturing sector and home to 25 universities, playing a strong role in the recovery of the UK economy. Over the last year, private sector employment in the Midlands grew more than 3 times faster than London and the South East.
But there are more opportunities to capitalise on the Midlands’ natural strengths and assets and make it an engine for growth. Through this prospectus, which sets out the region’s own vision to unlock greater economic growth, it’s time to fire up the Midlands Engine. I commend the leadership shown by the Midlands Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities and others to come together and pool resources to work towards the shared goal of greater growth for the whole region.
Specific ambitions for the Midlands Prospectus include:
Trade and investment
undertaking the first Midlands Engine trade mission and hosting the first senior Midlands Engine inward investment visit presenting a selection of Midlands Engine regeneration projects seeking investment, at the MIPIM 2016 property convention building a regional business visitor and tourism offer
developing the vision and strategy for transforming transport connectivity across the Midlands Engine region through Midlands Connect
Research and innovation evolving phase 2 of the Midlands Innovation led Energy Research Accelerator and a pipeline of further similar propositions, including a likely agri-food sector proposition building a stronger network of regional science parks as well as a higher education forum
developing a region-wide fund of funds utilising the EU Joint European Resource for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) programme, supporting small and medium enterprise growth ambitions of the region. The fund will deliver access to finance solutions on a bigger scale and ambition than before.
developing a more comprehensive demand-led approach for skills development in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, based on increased provider collaboration and alignment
undertaking a review of best practice relating to employment and skills. This will be used to accelerate the take up of new and innovative ideas
Communities Minister Marcus Jones said:
As part of our long term economic plan, the Midlands economy has the potential to grow by £34 billion by 2030, and by the end of this parliament, there could be as many as 300,000 extra jobs.
Building on the strengths that we already have, with world-beating companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce and JCB, the Midlands Engine will create the opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive.
Today’s (4 December 2015) prospectus demonstrates how, by focussing on innovation, finance and skills and developing world-class infrastructure we can create an environment in which the Midlands will cement its place as an economic engine for the whole nation.
This follows the Chancellor’s announcement last week of a major devolution deal for the West Midlands.