GBSLEP makes strides in delivering strategy with major financial boost

Posted by adminbackup - June 19, 2015 - Newsroom - No Comments

As the GBSLEP holds its Annual Conference (Friday 19 June 2015) the organisation is looking back on a year that has seen a number of important advances in moving from strategy development to implementation having secured the necessary funding to start delivering a number of outlined plans.

The GBSLEP has been outperforming other UK regions in several areas, including the private sector job creation and economic output which grew by 2.5% in 2013, well above the national rate of 1.6%. In addition, exports from the West Midlands have increased by nearly 30% over two years, the best performance of any UK region.

With the commitment to an EZ extension secured, the potential benefits of the HS2 station at Curzon can be maximised. Retention of the business will provide a catalyst to unlocking development, attracting significant inward investment in excess of £1.7bn and generating more than 5,000 additional jobs.

Ahead of the Conference and AGM, Andy Street, chair of the GBSLEP, said: “As a region we have enjoyed a period of improved growth and as we continue with our plans, we are confident that this can be sustained. We have achieved this by concentrating on an agreed economic strategy with our public and private sector partners and not allowing ourselves to be deviated from this course.

“In addition, our credibility with the UK Government has grown as we continue to demonstrate our innovation. An excellent example of this has been our approach to the Enterprise Zone (EZ). We have agreed an ambitious £275m investment plan, funded by Birmingham City Council borrowing against future business rates income, to drive development in the city centre. Significant progress is being made, with £18m invested last year to help bring about 60,000 sqm of new and refurbished commercial space and nearly 1,000 employment positions. Our approach to the EZ has also enabled work to begin on the £500m Paradise redevelopment following £88m allocation from the plan, which will create more than 10,000 jobs.

“We have worked hard to secure a significant Growth Deal for the region worth £379m which will support the creation of up to 29,000 jobs, delivery of 7,000 homes and the upskilling of 12,500 people. Projects supporting the Growth Deal include £100m of Local Growth Fund to create three extensions to the Midland Metro Rail, £2m to secure the delivery of a 20 hectare Advanced Manufacturing Hub and funding of £5m to facilitate the start of a Life Sciences Campus in Selly Oak.

“It has also given us the confidence to be ambitious, for example in our strategy to maximise the advantage of projects such as HS2, when we secured the location of the HS2 national construction headquarters at Two Snowhill and winning the national competition to host the National College for High Speed Rail.

“With the EZ extension in place exciting new regeneration and development schemes will be triggered. The location of the EZ extension, to include the Birmingham Curzon development zone, will provide a catalyst to unlocking development, attracting significant inward investment in excess of £1.7bn and generating more than 5,000 additional jobs.”

Despite all this progress, significant challenges remain and one of the areas the GBSLEP is keen to address is that of employability and skills. Areas of intensely low achievement remain, holding back the economic performance of the region and representing significant hardship for many residents in the region.

To address this issue, the GBSLEP is developing proposals to radically overhaul the current skills eco-system for negotiation with Government later this year. Part of this activity will include supporting local people into local jobs. The GBSLEP and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will unveil at the conference the start of this work, supported by 100 work coaches for Birmingham and Solihull committed by the Chancellor.

Andy Street added: “As we look forward to the next 12 months, we will see a number of investments secured through both the City Deal and Growth Deal become a reality including Birmingham’s new Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM) and the Growth Hub. The period will also determine how the GBSLEP and indeed other LEPs across the Midlands can continue to play a leading role as the proposed combined authority takes shape.

“We will also launch the outcome of our competitive positioning work which will determine how we should market ourselves more effectively in order to secure further investment.”

Andy Street 1


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