“Midlands Engine” plan gets government backing

4 Dec 15

Councils, local enterprise partnerships and businesses from across the Midlands have today set out a joint plan to boost the region’s economy, which is to be supported by £5m of government funding.

Eleven LEPs have been working on the Midlands Engine prospectus as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s vow to turn the Midlands into a centre of economic success.

Today’s plan focuses on boosting the region in five key areas: trade and investment; transport; research and innovation; business support; and skills.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, business secretary Sajid Javid said the shared vision would “fire up the Midlands Engine” and “unlock greater economic growth” in the region, where private sector employment already grew more than three times faster than that in London and the South East over the past year.

He confirmed the region would receive a total of £5m of support for a new trade and investment package from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This would help firms reach new markets and boost exports, Javid said, and he would also lead a trade mission to promote the region to investors and trade partners next year.

The plan is also intended to boost the region’s economy by enhancing its connectivity to take advantage of its central location, closing the skills gap in the manufacturing and engineering sectors and developing new sources of finance for business.

Improving innovation and research also forms part of the plan, with initiatives to encourage closer collaboration between businesses and higher education institutions across the region to create new products and businesses.

Communities minister Marcus Jones said the plan would give the Midlands the potential to grow by £34bn by 2030, including the creation of as many as 300,000 jobs by the end of this parliament.

The news follows the announcement of a devolution deal for the Midlands by the chancellor, which included £1bn worth of government investment in the region.

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