The Midlands region, like the rest of the UK, faces a period of uncertainty as negotiations get underway to leave the European Union. Here we take a look at the three crucial steps the region must take once Article 50 is triggered.
Make a success of the West Midlands Combined Authority
Devolution gives those at the forefront – in this case the 12 local councils and three local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) that make up the WMCA – control over decisions and budget on transport, infrastructure, housing, business and skills, and perhaps even healthcare. As part of the agreement, Whitehall has committed to making an annual contribution of £40 million for 30 years to support its activity. In a post-Brexit world having control over our own destiny away from Whitehall is of huge benefit. Getting this right has never been more important.
Backing The Midlands Engine
The Midlands Engine is the inward investment name for a region of more than 11 million people, worth £222 billion to the UK economy and boasting the most diverse range of industries in the country. At the Conservative Party Conference it was given several public endorsements from the PM as well as other senior ministers, allaying fears the project could disappear along with George Osborne and David Cameron.
The Engine focuses on five key themes – skills, innovation, transport, promoting the region and finance for business. If the Midlands region matches the predicted growth rate for the UK over the next 15 years, there is the potential to create 300,000 jobs and boost the national economy by £34 billion.
The importance of the Engine should not be underestimated when looking at foreign direct investment in particular. Key to this will be MIPIM 2017, where public and private sector partners from across the Midlands will unite under the Engine banner to showcase the region and its investment opportunities.
Making sure it’s business as usual
While the political and economic landscape continues to shift at a national level, here in the Midlands business and political leaders have an obligation to communicate that this region is open for business both to those in and outside of the EU – and will adapt and react positively to any impending changes. This is vital in ensuring large scale infrastructure projects continue – and that we attract further inward investment.
This region is undergoing a transformation unlike any other. Maintaining the momentum regardless of the referendum result is integral to our long term economic success – businesses need to remain steadfast.