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GBSLEP chair: ‘We’ve earned right to be ambitious for the future’

GBSLEP chair: ‘We’ve earned right to be ambitious for the future’

🕔15.Jun 2016

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership is marking its fifth birthday with a claim that a “collaborative spirit between public and private sectors” has helped turn around the region’s economy.

GBSLEP chair Andy Street will tell the organisation’s AGM that the Government has fresh confidence in the West Midlands’ ability to reinvent itself, in particular the HS2 Growth Strategy which will maximise job and investment opportunities arising out of the arrival of high speed trains in Birmingham in 2026.

Mr Street is expected to tell the meeting at Birmingham Town Hall this Friday, June 17, that GBSLEP has delivered its economic growth targets since being formed in 2011 and has “earned the right to be appropriately ambitious” for the future.

His message will be that GBSLEP’s approach, bringing together businesses and local councils, has played a significant role in encouraging central government to back the region’s growth strategy.

He will also look forward to GBSLEP’s role as one of the three local enterprise partnerships at the heart of the West Midlands Combined Authority, which has negotiated an £8 billion devolution deal with the Government.

The event will outline how major investments, such as HS2, the extension of the Birmingham city centre Enterprise Zone, and the West Midlands Combined Authority devolution deal – are an indication of the level of confidence the Government has in the region.

During 2015 the West Midlands exported £29 billion worth of goods, more than any UK region outside of London and the south east, Birmingham was named the top UK regional city for quality of life, and more people moved to Birmingham from London than any other city in the country.

Amid the backdrop of a growing economic renaissance, GBSLEP helped to attract 73 foreign direct investment projects (FDI)to the area in 2015 – the best performance of any LEP.

Mr Street, who is the managing director of John Lewis, is expected to say that with 20,200 new businesses created in 2015, the GBSLEP area can be seen as the ‘start-up capital’ outside of London, creating 85,200 additional private sector jobs – with the region continually outperforming the UK’s national growth average.

Speaking ahead of the LEP’s AGM, Mr Street said:

We are amongst the leaders for the rate of private sector job creation, are the top performing LEP area for inward investment for the second year running and importantly, have halved the numbers claiming unemployment benefit since the high of February 2012. These results have come about in part because of the collaboration which now exists across our region.

However, he warned there was still a long way to go.

To realise our ambition for our city region to compete on an international stage we have to deliver the huge opportunities around HS2 and above all else we must apply our collective creativity to develop the capabilities of our current and future workforce.

These are real challenges, but we have momentum and five years on we’ve earned the right to be appropriately ambitious.

The AGM will be an opportunity for delegates to hear about the past year’s achievements as well as future plans for the region.

The keynote speaker at the event will be Lucy Williams, the Head of Regulatory Compliance for HSBC in the UK, and one of the first senior executives to relocate from London to Birmingham ahead of the bank’s new headquarters opening next year.

Attendees will also hear from LEP board directors Steve Hollis, Saqib Bhatti, Andrew Cleaves and Simon Marks, and a panel of experts including Ahmed Farooq, Chair of BPS Birmingham, Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Cathy Gilbert, Director of External Relations, University of Birmingham and Dawn Ward CBE, Chief Executive and Principal at Burton and South Derbyshire College.

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