The Board of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will be asked tomorrow (Friday June 5) to approve the use of £2.6m for a programme of activities designed to squeeze even more from the Games which are already expected to bring millions of extra pounds into the West Midlands economy and create thousands of jobs.
Approval by the Board would enable a business case for a Tourism Trade and Investment (TTI) programme to be submitted to Government to secure a further £21.3m of match funding earmarked by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget.
The Chancellor’s announcement followed an approach from the WMCA led by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC).
Subject to the business case being accepted by Government the proposed TTI programme would use the combined £24m to secure an even bigger reward from the Games and help create an economic legacy for the region.
It would look to capitalise on the region’s time in the international spotlight both before, during and after the Games to boost its reputation as a world-class destination for trade, investment, education and tourism.
Potential initiatives in the TTI programme could include domestic and international tourist campaigns and trade missions to key Commonwealth markets.
Although the Government was first approached with the proposal last year, the TTI Programme has taken on added impetus amid the coronavirus pandemic and the need for a strong economic recovery.
The Mayor said:
“We are incredibly lucky to be hosting the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at a time when economies everywhere will still be rebuilding from the impact of Covid-19.
“The Games offer us a unique economic bonus and it’s imperative we do everything we can to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity and create thousands of local jobs for local people.
“This TTI programme would aim to transform the global reputation of the West Midlands and showcase all that’s best about our region so that more people want to visit us, do businesses with us and invest in us.”
The programme would aim to deliver additional benefits including hundreds of jobs for the whole of the West Midlands on top of what is expected to be achieved by the Games themselves including additional:
- Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects
- leisure tourism expenditure
- conference and sporting expenditure
WMGC chief executive Neil Rami said:
“This new government-backed programme provides a tremendous opportunity to support companies in the West Midlands to ensure we continue to grow our economy, increase exports and attract further investment. It will also allow us to promote the region’s tourism offer, when it is safe to do so.
“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic means that this programme is more important than ever. It will ensure that we can reset the region’s economy and continue to be an international destination of choice.”
Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economy and innovation, said:
“With the eyes of millions focused on the West Midlands there will never be a better time to forge new trade and tourism links.
“This proposed programme can help us do that, supporting not just local exporters but also the thousands of home-grown businesses working in the region’s tourism, hospitality and cultural sector who have been hit so hard by the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Above all, we need to make sure the new investment, jobs and wider opportunities generated are able to benefit all our communities, so that the economy we rebuild in the wake of coronavirus is a fairer and more inclusive one.”
If funding is approved by the Board, then a business case will be developed and submitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by WMGC on behalf of the WMCA.
The programme would be managed by the WMCA alongside partners including the Department for International Trade, Visit Britain, DCMS, Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee (OC).
The TTI Programme would be part of wider plans already in place to capitalise on the Games and help make sure the thousands of jobs created are filled by local people.
To help make that happen, the WMCA and its partners have launched a new Commonwealth Jobs and Skills Academy, to accelerate and amplify plans to improve regional skills and employment opportunities through the Games. There will be a particular focus on supporting young people and unemployed adults.