More than 100 leading figures from the region’s private and public sectors gathered to discuss the Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), at the West Midlands Growth Company’s latest partners’ event at the Library of Birmingham, on Wednesday 12 September.

The session was hosted by Chair of the West Midlands Growth Company, Matthew Hammond, who is also Regional Chair for PwC across the Midlands.

Matthew Hammond opened the event talking about how the region needs to capitalise on the Industrial Strategy. He praised the region’s ability to make its mark by attracting foreign direct investment in a difficult economic climate, impressive visitor numbers that have boosted the local tourism economy and the work carried out by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to secure the 5G testbed programme for the West Midlands.

West Midlands in context

Deborah Cadman OBE, Chief Executive of the WMCA, gave a keynote speech on the West Midlands current economic standing and how the LIS will support the WMCA in growing the region’s economy.

She emphasised how the WMCA is committed to building strong local communities, which helps to encourage inclusive growth that will help the region’s young and diverse population to thrive, encouraging a stable regional and UK economy.

‘Export capital of the UK’

Deborah spoke about the region being the export capital of the UK and the need to enhance business competitiveness and productivity; the importance of handling Brexit correctly and how the region can prepare itself; and how we can diversify our approach to skills provision across the region to ensure a highly skilled talent pool.

Local Industrial Strategy

Deborah handed over to Patrick White, Director of Industrial Strategy at WMCA, who gave an overview of what to expect from the LIS.

He opened the speech by speaking about the foundations that the LIS is built upon: driving economic growth while tackling socials issues, such as rising childhood obesity numbers and social inequalities.

The LIS will work through five key principles:
•    Unique to the West Midlands
•    Focus on impact
•    Be explicit about how we will create the conditions for inclusive growth and productivity
•    Be bold about our investment in human capital
•    Not start all over again

Patrick praised the willingness of businesses to get involved throughout the region that shows a desire to ‘make things work’. He urged the region’s strong Automotive and Life Sciences sectors to lead the economic renaissance; the need to establish better networks for collaboration and innovation; and to capitalise on the significant value chain opportunities.

The West Midlands has one of the biggest cluster of games companies in the UK, for example - which includes Codemasters and Facepunch. Using these types of key growth sectors are crucial to attracting inward investment.

Local Industrial Strategy commitments

The LIS is committed to making the West Midlands:
•    The home of mobility and transport innovation
•    The UK’s leading exporting region
•    UK centre for health diagnostics, devices and testing and translational medicine driven by data and AI
•    Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton globally and locally connected cities 
•    Innovative in its approaches to energy generation, storage and transmission
•    A globally renowned advanced manufacturing and engineering hub

The floor was then opened up to delegates for a productive Q&A session with Deborah and Patrick.

‘Great place, Great people, Great time’

The morning was signed off by Matthew Hammond who concluded proceedings with the “three G’s”, a phrase that encapsulates the region’s current opportunity: ‘Great place, Great people, Great time’. 

Next Partner Event

The West Midlands Growth Company’s ‘Annual Review & Winter Drinks’ will be held at Birmingham Hippodrome on Wednesday 21 November 2018. Please visit https://wmgrowth.com/event/annual-review-winter-drinks to find out more.