07 Feb 2024

Levers for regional growth identified in commission’s interim report

Business Commission WM - Henrietta Brealey and Mark Taylor.JPG

A powerful group representing West Midlands private sector businesses has identified five ‘levers for growth’ in a report released today.

Business Commission West Midlands (BCWM) has published an interim report to provide the region’s business community and key stakeholders with an update on its progress.

BCWM – convened last year by the Greater Birmingham, Coventry & Warwickshire and Black Country Chambers of Commerce - comprises leaders in enterprise, supported by expert advisors, who are examining the opportunities for regional business growth and identify the action needed to seize them.

The interim report has been produced following an engagement and research programme in which 132 businesses contributed evidence to the Commission, alongside eight public sector and 10 membership organisations or cluster groups.

In the 65-page report, commissioners and advisory panel members identified International Trade, Net Zero, Innovation, Foreign Direct & Inward Investment and Artificial Intelligence & Digital Transformation as prime ‘levers’ for growth across the region.

The report summarises the challenges that businesses identified as holding back business growth as well as what they perceive as the strengths of the region as a place to do business.

It explores issues ranging from access to finance and public transport provision to the complexity of the regional business support ecosystem and a shortage of suitable premises and sites for the manufacturing sector.

It also highlights how businesses perceive the region’s competitive advantages in terms of location, education eco-system, connected networks and the role of the West Midlands Mayor in attracting funding and investment.

Mark Taylor, chair of the BCWM, said: “The purpose of the Business Commission is clear – to translate the voice of business into a clear and compelling summary of the proactive steps that are required to support future growth and prosperity in the West Midlands.

“This region is a fantastic place to do business and it is essential that we build upon our rich heritage to ensure we remain at the forefront of innovation in a rapidly changing world.

“Whilst it is clear that many companies continue to operate in challenging circumstances right now, the resilience they display is a testament to the strength of the local business community.

“The feedback we’ve gathered from a rich cross-section of the business community will now play an important role in shaping our asks from regional and national stakeholders.”

Using the themes identified in the interim report, BCWM will develop a set of recommendations for local, regional and national stakeholders, creating a roadmap for business growth which will be set out in the final report.

The final report will be launch in mid-March as part of the BCWM’s West Midlands Mayoral Election engagement activity.

Henrietta Brealey, CEO of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “The level and pace of change that the business community has experienced in recent years has been extraordinary.

“At the same time, sluggish economic growth presents a critical challenge to our society, including the funding key public services. In this context we need a fundamental reset of our understanding of what businesses need to fulfil their growth potential.

“The purpose of the interim report is simple: it reflects back what the region’s business community told us during our call for evidence.

“We will use this Interim Report of the Business Commission West Midlands to engage businesses, stakeholders and partners from across all sectors and seek their insights on the emerging themes as we work with our Commissioners and Advisory Panel to develop the final report and recommendations.”

Business Commission West Midlands is supported by Aston University, Birmingham City University, University College Birmingham, University of Birmingham and Douglas Wright (T/A McDonald’s).

Read the BCWM interim report

Pictured: Henrietta Brealey and Mark Taylor

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