New West Midlands Mayor ‘must turbocharge region’s recovery’ – CBI

The incoming West Midlands mayor must show vision and ambition to turbocharge the region’s Covid recovery and lay the foundations for sustainable, long-term prosperity, according to the CBI.

The business group has today launched its West Midlands Revival Plan, a blueprint for the region’s future which urges the winner of May 6’s ballot to champion the area’s unique strengths.

Overcoming skills shortages and pockets of low productivity are priorities, while attracting fresh inward investment and driving improvement in physical infrastructure and digital connectivity can also be transformational for an area heavily impacted by the pandemic.

Towns and cities such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Walsall have seen their economies decrease by more than 11.7% in 2020. Months of restrictions have had significant, long-term impacts on business communities, resulting in closures, reduced investment and a prolonged sense of uncertainty about the future.

Richard Butler, CBI West Midlands director, said: “As we emerge from the pandemic there are opportunities to do things differently, to champion the region’s dynamism on the world stage, to transform digital and physical infrastructure on the race to net zero and to stimulate job creation, securing an inclusive workforce that is fit for the future.

“The region’s diverse sector strengths in automotive, finance, health and creative industries are key to its recovery. Alongside world-class universities, further educational institutions and innovative businesses, the West Midlands remains at the cutting edge of technological breakthroughs, digital connectivity and manufacturing advances – leading innovations that will change the way we live, travel and communicate in a post-pandemic future.

“To address the challenges of Covid-19 and to capitalise on future opportunities, it is essential the newly-elected mayor works collaboratively with businesses and stakeholders to champion a strong economic vision for the region.

“The CBI, alongside the wider business community, stands ready to support to ensure the West Midlands can revive and thrive in the future.”

The CBI’s manifesto makes a series of recommendations which outline how businesses and the newly-elected mayor can work together to drive recovery.
1) Champion regional dynamism and global competitiveness to raise living standards. 
Establish a pro-business economic vision to drive recovery, with fresh focus on collaboration and future investment.
Promote export as a key component of recovery and prosperity, utilising existing strengths and championing growth opportunities.
Raise the region’s international profile to attract inward investment and reinforce its worldwide reputation as a tourist destination.
2) Transform digital and physical infrastructure on the race to net zero.
Ensure the region plays its part in meeting carbon reduction ambitions by focusing on a green recovery and evolving towns and cities.
Establish a long-term vision to improve living standards and job opportunities to benefit all within the region.
Drive meaningful improvement and investment in jobs, housing, transport and digitisation across the region.
3) Stimulate job creation and secure an inclusive future workforce. 
Unite business and academia to identify and address skills gaps and feed future industries.
Champion diversity and inclusion to boost social mobility and ensure opportunity for younger generations and minority groups.
Deliver projects that result in the creation of good jobs at pace, enabling business to attract and retain good talent.