The launch of the Midlands Engine Strategy on Thursday 9 March marks an important moment for the region. Its five themes – Midlands Connect, innovation, skills, finance for business and promotion – aim to boost growth in the heart of the country by focusing on driving up productivity in key sectors.
With its population of 11.5 million set to grow by ten per cent over the next 20 years, the Midlands currently provides a third of all UK manufacturing jobs and plays a vital role in the country’s economy. Formed over a year ago, Midlands Engine is a partnership of LEPs, local authorities, businesses, and universities that has been engaging with stakeholders across the region to identify the best opportunities to boost economic growth in the Midlands for the benefit of Britain.
Sir John Peace, Chair of the Midlands Engine, said: “We have come to deliver a collective view of what the Midlands can achieve. We believe that with the right investments in place the Midlands can raise its performance to match global cities like Singapore, Shanghai and New York. We have published an ambitious vision of a Midlands that thinks big, acts big, and aims higher, through a realistic plan to make it happen.”
Connectivity is a key theme for the Midlands Engine. Research carried out by Midlands Connect has shown that cutting journey times on key Midland routes by 20 per cent over the next 20 years could yield savings for local businesses of £460m a year. This could also increase annual economic activity in the region by £1.1bn, create 306,000 additional jobs and benefit the labour market by £33m a year.
In his Budget speech on Wednesday 8 March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond confirmed £23m of investment in our transport network and, alongside the Midlands Engine Strategy, the government has also published the Midlands Transport Strategy which identifies the key infrastructure investments that will better connect Midlands towns and cities and deliver extra road and rail capacity at the nation’s crossroads.
Sir John Peace said, “We sit at the heart of the UK’s transport network and therefore an investment in this region’s transport will have a remarkable benefit to the whole country and create a positive ripple effect to boost the development of industry, skills and infrastructure across the whole of the UK.”
The full strategy is available to download from the Midlands Engine website, or you can follow @midsengine on Twitter for regular news and updates.