The Growing Black Country

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Investments Increase As Perceptions Of The Area Change

In 2010 the Government set up Local Enterprise Partnerships designed to let local businesses influence the spending of monies in their locality. The boards set up to oversee this spend were comprised of local authority leaders and local leading businesspeople, a true public and private partnership.

The partnership work of the Black Country LEP and our targeted approach to assisting business growth is making a difference writes Ninder Johal, LEP Board Member leading on perception and communications.

The competitive strengths of the Black Country are getting through to Westminster. In recent months we have welcomed the Prime Minister David Cameron, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.  Two weeks ago Culture Secretary Sajid Javid was here to launch £12m investment to ensure 98% coverage for high speed broadband by 2017.

Ministers want to be associated with our successes, recognising we have the right strategic approach, with business growth from the high value manufacturing base. When David Cameron announced the Black Country Growth Deal, he wrote an article for the Express & Star saying “Made in the Black Country, Sold around the World isn’t just a slogan, it’s a reality.”  

Recent indicators demonstrate that perceptions of the Black Country are moving in the right direction as investment increases. Foreign direct investment in 2013/14 created 200 new jobs and safeguarded 650 jobs.  Entrepreneurial start ups saw the Black Country become the top LEP area for business start-ups growing to reach £1m turnover in three years.

The Black Country Enterprise Zone is one of the best performing in the country, with major investment from JLR in their UK engine centre and new facilities for Moog, Eurofins and ISP at i54.

The visitor and cultural sectors are growing in economic importance, in 2013 visitors increased by 500,000 to 25 million, generating £825 million revenue and creating 550 new jobs to total 12,000 full time equivalent jobs in the sector.

The Black Country City Deal with Government built on the history and high performance of Black Country manufacturing and supports the growth of high value manufacturing particularly in the automotive and aerospace sectors. The City Deal funded the Growth Hub to help Black Country manufacturing SMEs with a single point of contact for advice and support and bespoke programmes.

The Black Country Growth Deal secured Government investment of £35 million in 2015-16, with approval for 14 of 16 projects we submitted in the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan. 13 projects will commence in 2015-16 and there is provisional funding for two more projects in 2016-17.  As part of the Government’s commitment to the Black Country LEP, it has provided an indicative award of a further £103 million of funding for the next six years.

We have been recognised as ‘a high performing LEP’ but we strive to do better. This can only happen if we improve our relationship with wealth creating businesses. We need to know what stops your business growing. Board members are happy to take your calls and you can contact me via email (ninder.johal@nachural.co.uk) or social media. We can all play a part in making the Black Country a better place to work, rest and play. 

by Ninder Johal

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