Region enjoys record year for inward investment

EY senior partner Sara Fowler
EY senior partner Sara Fowler

The West Midlands has attracted more than 100 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in a year for the first time as it enjoyed “an outstanding year for inward investment”.

It secured a record 111 projects in 2016, which followed on from 92 achieved a year earlier.

The acceleration is shown by the total for the last two years – 203 – is greater than that achieved in the four years before that, when the region had 198 projects.

Despite the national picture also being positive, with the 1,144 projects secured also the highest its been since the financial crisis, EY’s annual Attractiveness Report warned investors are predicting a decline in the UK’s future attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment.

Sara Fowler, senior partner at EY in the Midlands said: “It’s been another outstanding year for inward investment, with the West Midlands now the third best performing UK region for attracting FDI. The implementation of the Midlands Engine strategy should serve to attract more businesses and skilled people to the region, which in turn will boost employment and productivity.”

The West Midlands is behind only London, which had 451, and Scotland, with 122, in attracting investment projects.

European countries were responsible for more than half of the projects, with investment originating in 26 countries from around the world – led by the USA, with 23 projects, and Germany with 21.

Fowler added: “With the appointment of Andy Street as Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority to head up our regional growth strategy, and the creation of the West Midlands Growth Company to promote our region on a global stage, we’re looking for these authorities to champion the Midlands Engine to ensure it remains attractive, competitive and connected.”

Neil Rami, chief executive of West Midlands Growth Company

Neil Rami, chief executive of West Midlands Growth Company

Neil Rami, chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, which operates inward investment programme Business Birmingham, welcomed the figures.

He said: “The West Midlands continues to attract a wave of overseas investors, confirming the region’s strength as an international business and investment destination. Global names ranging from Amazon to engineering firm Detroit Electric and Allegis, a HR and recruitment technology specialist, are locating and thriving here.

“The region boasts a large and talented workforce, plus a highly entrepreneurial business environment. As the only UK region to have two HS2 stations, the West Midlands also has an unrivalled plan for growth and connectivity that will help to boost the economy locally and across the UK.”

It is the third consecutive year it has grown its market share, up from 5.9% in 2013 to 9.7% last year.

Manufacturing’s importance was underlined by it being responsible for more than half of the region’s FDI projects. The financial and business services sector secured 20%.