Businesses and individuals will be given their say on how growth can be delivered to the region as the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBS LEP) prepares to launch a major consultation exercise.
The publication of a white paper with the working title ‘Strategy for Growth’ will signal the start of a process to determine how growth can be delivered throughout the LEP area, which also includes East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Tamworth, Bromsgrove, Cannock Chase, Redditch and Wyre Forest.
The aim is to create “a globally competitive city region” moving forward in an area that has a combined population of two million and a regional economy worth £34 billion.
The LEP, one of the largest in the country, will set out an ambitious programme for growth and prosperity in a bid to see the area punch its weight on both the national and international stages.
Steve Hollis, Deputy Chair of GBS LEP, said: “Since its inception 18 months ago, the LEP has made significant progress – the UK’s largest city centre enterprise zone has been created, a transformational City Deal has been signed with Government and funding has been made available to businesses through the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative and the Business Development Programme.
“Perhaps our greatest achievement has been the new level of coalition we have forged between the private and public sectors. This will be critical in delivering future success, as will our relationship with Government that has strengthened as we have demonstrated our ability to deliver on the growth agenda.”
He added: “However, we recognise that this is just the start of the journey. The purpose of this white paper is to explain in detail our aspirations and vision and allow all our partners and stakeholders to input, challenge and discuss with us the things that matter most for regional growth.”
According to a draft of the report, the white paper will outline three themes – “business, people and place” and specify five priorities that will need to be addressed in order to succeed in delivering growth.
They include the creation of a new “eco system” for business support, providing leadership in growth sectors, reducing the skills deficit, supporting the development of land for employment and housing and improving connectivity – both physical and digital.
The LEP has also responded to appeals for better access to finance, particularly for SMEs who maintain a lack of lending is a continuing obstacle to growth. It is hoped that much financial support can be delivered through the roll-out of Finance Birmingham, the development of the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain initiative and through creating new financial products.
The paper will also identify key sectors where growth is expected to come and support the creation of new clusters.
They include automotive and advanced engineering, financial, business and professional services and computer services, IT and digital.