GBSLEP Blog – Andy Street (December 2013)
As we reach the end of another year in the LEP’s journey, it is worth reflecting on the progress we have made in the space of 12 months.
With 2013 just a few days old, a hastily convened audience of stakeholders and partners gathered at KPMG for the launch of the Greater Birmingham Project.
Lord Heseltine, myself and leader of Birmingham City Council Sir Albert Bore were among the speakers as we began what was originally intended as a three-month review of how his proposals for a Local Growth Fund could be applied in practice here in Greater Birmingham.
As it turned out, the deadline was brought forward to meet political deadlines and the report was published in late March.
The collaboration demonstrated in that work by partners across public, private, academic and the voluntary sectors has left us well placed for our bid to the Local growth Fund. As the year ends we have now submitted our Strategic Economic Plan which will go well beyond the Local Growth Fund in our future dialogue with Government.
You will hear more about that in the new year.
There has also been a great deal to celebrate in terms of delivery this year.
The momentum of the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone has been encouraging with the launch of the prospectus by the Chancellor George Osborne in February.
Not long afterwards we secured approval from Birmingham City Council to start the investment in infrastructure necessary for, among other things, the redevelopment of Paradise Circus and extension of the Midland Metro.
Along with Arup and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, we launched the masterplan for UK Central, a project which already provides great economic value in Greater Birmingham and has the potential for even more.
And we saw our first completed Growing Places project in East Staffordshire at the Red Carpet Cinema and Café Bar.
We’ve also taken great strides in our work to develop a spatial plan for Greater Birmingham and expect to be able to publish in the new year.
We’ve seen a surge in the number of people moving into apprenticeships and, crucially, we’ve seen unemployment in Greater Birmingham decrease from 65,798 in January to 53,348 in the latest figures in November.
And we’ve seen no shortage of progress with business support schemes, including the Business Development Programme, Green Bridge and Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative.
I am conscious that this has only been made possible thanks to the efforts of many people right across Greater Birmingham and I would like to thank everybody who has made this such a positive year.
The city region goes into 2014 with newfound optimism, and confidence that by working together we can build on the momentum we now have.