Solihull's future ambitions

West Midlands Growth Company

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to provide insight on the findings of our new publication Doing Business in Solihull: An Economic Snapshot.

Doing Business in Solihull: An Economic Snapshot is produced by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce policy team. It offers an introduction to the local economy and business community within Solihull. The report is sponsored by Prime Accountants Group, one of the West Midland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants, forensic accountants, business and financial advisors.

This post is featured in the full report here.

Solihull is fast becoming a world-class destination for business relocation and international investment. Ambitious schemes planned for the area include the regeneration of Birmingham International Station and the first HS2 station outside London. The wider Hub area will become one of Europe’s best connected destinations for business, leisure and living.[1] This landmark project will position Solihull as a major engine for growth at a national level, supporting up to 77,500 jobs, 775,000 sq. m. of commercial space, 4,000 new homes and generating £4.1bn every year as a result.[2]

The region is already home to major companies, such as global automotive brand Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) - the largest vehicle producer in the UK[3] and a major employer both locally and nationally, creating a supply chain of job opportunities within the UK. The town is also the long standing base for the UK headquarters of Financial Services Group BNP Paribas.

Solihull currently benefits from exceptional global and national connectivity through Birmingham Airport and motorway networks. The arrival of HS2 will act as catalyst for transport infrastructure, improving rail connections to London (cutting journey time to just 38 minutes), Heathrow Airport and continental Europe, as well as to regional hubs in the North of England and Scotland, creating significant opportunities for growth and investment.

The town has a strong entrepreneurial culture – ranked third in the UK for ‘enterprise’ by Santander. Solihull’s exceptional infrastructure and innovative workforce creates a perfect ecosystem for start-ups, scale-ups and large companies.[4] This is sustained by a highly-skilled, vibrant talentpool, with the West Midlands accommodating the youngest, most diverse population outside of London, with more than one in five people aged under 16 and 25% under 30.[5] Located within a 12-mile radius of five universities and top research facilitates with expertise in areas such as engineering and medical innovation, businesses have direct access to a pipeline of highly qualified future employees.

Solihull is also a successful inward investment destination. Since 2013, our figures show there have been 74 new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects and 6,150 jobs created in Solihull, with the USA, Germany and India demonstrating the leading sources of investment. FDI has been driven by the transport tech sector, which was responsible for over half of jobs created (3685) and 18 FDI projects. Major transport tech companies include JLR, Dutch company Vanderlande and American based, International Automotive Company. Blythe Valley Business Park, an established 2 million sq. f. mixed use business park, offers prime space for relocation and expansion. Global brands that have taken Grade A office space at Blythe Valley include fitness clothing retailer, Gymshark and German owned ZF, a technology company that specialises in driveline and chassis technology.

Outlining ambitious future growth plans, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s Town Masterplan provides a blueprint for investment and development in the town centre over the next 20 years. These strategic development sites offer a range of mixed use opportunities, supported by a pro-active local authority, which has substantial land holdings in the area.[6] The plan identifies the potential for up to 1,400 new homes, over 70,000 sq. m. of new office space and 11,000 sq. m. of commercial and leisure space, ensuring the town centre remains and grows as a thriving location in which to live and work.

With strong strategic leadership in place through the West Midlands Combined Authority and a thriving and resilient economy the region is primed for unprecedented growth.[7] The Local Industrial Strategy will build on recent success and ensure a regional economy fit for the future, despite the uncertain economic landscape. Furthermore, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP Strategic Economic Plan sets out a vision and strategy for delivering smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive growth, with a aim of raising the quality of life for residents, visitors and businesses.[8]

Nicola Hewitt
Commercial Director
West Midlands Growth Company

[3] Source: SMMT
[6] 2019 press release

[7] 5