• New partnership group set to develop even stronger links with regional business community
  • GBSLEP releases 2017-18 Annual Report, highlighting region’s economic progress 
  • New Ladder for Greater Birmingham campaign launches to create 1,000 new apprenticeship roles by September 2019

The group will further increase GBSLEP’s relationship with the region’s private sector by inviting business leaders to identify and work with the LEP to overcome barriers to growth. It will be free for businesses to join, and is expected to be rolled out by the end of the year. The advocacy group – comprising stakeholders from the region’s high-growth industries, including life sciences and advanced manufacturing – will meet regularly to act as a sounding board for GBSLEP to guide future interventions that will drive economic prosperity. 

The launch of the partnership group is among the highlights of GBSLEP’s 2018 Annual Conference, which has attracted more than 300 regional leaders and features presentations from GBSLEP Chair Tim Pile, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, and Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street.

Tim Pile commented:

“GBSLEP is already a partnership between the public, private and academic sectors, joining forces to ensure that we can unlock economic growth across Greater Birmingham and Solihull. We want to take this collaboration a step further, to ensure that GBSLEP is listening to as many businesses as possible when making decisions about the region’s economic future. 

“We will work with business advocates to help GBSLEP to continue to act on the needs of our regional business community, and proactively address issues that could become barriers to growth and employment.

“During the last 12 months, Greater Birmingham and Solihull has continued to thrive as the leading core city region for growth in economic output and business start-ups, with higher increases in private sector job creation than the national average. There is still much more for us to do to achieve our goals, but by working together I am confident that we can continue to build on several years of success.”

Released to delegates at its fifth Annual Conference, GBSLEP’s 2017/18 Annual Report details the region’s economic progress from the past 12 months. Successes include a £1.3 billion increase in gross value added (GVA) to £46.8 billion and the creation of some 22,600 jobs in the private sector. The report also underlines Birmingham’s status as the most entrepreneurial UK city outside London, with 12,108 new businesses set up last year. As well as its economic achievements, the region’s quality of life offer has improved, moving up one place to fourth in PwC’s Good Growth index.

The Annual Report also highlights the initiatives GBSLEP has overseen to support business growth in the region. This includes the new Ladder for Greater Birmingham campaign, officially launched today.

Run by Performance Through People and community development group The Vine Trust with funding from GBSLEP, the initiative aims to create 1,000 new apprenticeship roles in the region by September 2019. Focusing on the GBSLEP’s growth sectors, the campaign encourages companies to take on new employees who are just starting their career and invest in their future by giving them the skills both they and the business need. 

Tim Pile added:

“It is clear from similar Ladder programmes in neighbouring areas that this is a successful tool in offering people a path to a new start and real career progression. We urge firms and partners across the region to get in touch with us, and find out how they can support this campaign, and increase their own productivity and business performance.”

GBSLEP’s Annual Conference features an exhibition highlighting its Growth Hub and some of the projects that it has supported during the past year, which have helped to create jobs, improve transport links, upskill the region’s population and raise the quality of life across the region. These include Tyseley Energy Park; the Prince’s Trust in Digbeth; Hoobrook Link Road in Kidderminster; and the National College for High Speed Rail.  

The conference’s principal sponsor, Tamworth-based augmented and virtual reality business Enlighten, will bring each of these schemes to life through its new augmented reality project. The firm, named as one of the UK’s top ‘Small Biz 100’ by the national Small Business Saturday campaign and part of this year’s CE50 (Creative England), will showcase recent GBSLEP success stories through interactive, digital displays. The displays will enable attendees to digitally trigger unique, interactive Augmented Reality (AR) experiences on their mobile phones to learn more about the projects through additional information and videos.