To bolster economic growth in the region, the West Midlands Combined Authority – combining the leaders of its seven metropolitan areas – was recently created. Today the organisation is hosting its launch event, ‘Forum for Growth’ – with consulting and engineering firm Ramboll acting as one of the network’s partners.
The West Midlands was for a long time one of the world’s manufacturing hubs, heralded as one of the founding regions for the industrial revolution with its Black Country region regarded as the world's first dedicated industrial landscapes.
Today the region has a relatively robust GVA at £85 billion, and is, with an average growth rate of 4% (2009-2014), one of the fastest growing areas outside of London. The region has the ambition to stay the course and become one of the engines – like the Northern Powerhouse – of the UK and drive the economy towards greener pastures. West Midlands in particular builds on a strong export based output – which more than doubled since 2012 to £31.4 billion – and in recent years also benefited from strong growth in the revenues of its largest enterprises. Birmingham has too remained a magnet for FDI into the UK.
The recent vote for a Brexit will, unfortunately, place considerable strain on the local manufacturing economy – with the automotive manufacturing industry one of the area’s most likely sectors to be hit hard by export tariffs to the EU, were they to arise in a post-Brexit deal with the continent.
West Midlands Combined Authority
One of the regional groups working towards supporting the area become one of the UK’s growth engines is the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). The organisation, which was recently instantiated followed the devolution of powers, brings together the region’s leaders from its seven metropolitan councils – in concert with Local Enterprise Partnerships – to create a framework that delivers a “co-ordinated decision-making needed for modern economic governance.” Today, on June the 28th, the WMCA is staging its launch event ‘Forum for Growth’ at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham.
One of the organisations sponsoring the WMCA, and the event, is professional services firm Ramboll. Neil Harvey, Ramboll Director who leads the Birmingham office operations comments: “We’re confident that the formation of the WMCA will drive more investment in major infrastructure projects, creating further economic growth and much improved transport links across the region. We’re excited by the level of opportunity this creates for the West Midlands and are planning to grow our established Birmingham operations.”