Property advisers JLL have welcomed the recent Midlands Engine Strategy announcement – but warned that the region’s economy needs certainty and clarity to prosper.
Its Birmingham-based lead director (Midlands Region), Ian Cornock, admitted that the Chancellor’s statement had identified all the key strategic issues; including low productivity and skill levels, connectivity, exports and infrastructure.
However, he believes none of those challenges can be fully addressed in the Midlands, unless the government is prepared to commit significantly greater levels of funding.
“It is great to hear of £25m being awarded to tackle congestion and improve access to major employment sites in the Black Country, for example, but that has to be the start of ongoing support, not just a one-off chunk of cash, to ensure certainty of delivery,” said Cornock.
“In terms of the region’s wider infrastructure challenges; they’ve all now been identified, which has to be welcomed, but we need hundreds of millions not tens of millions, if the government is really serious about making a difference here.”
Cornock also stressed the need for the Midlands Engine Strategy to build on the good work Marketing Birmingham and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce have already done in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, which are a major source of employment and wealth creation in the region’s urban centres.
“It’s imperative we have joined up thinking in the region and that the Midlands Engine Strategy dovetails into the work of the West Midlands Combined Authority. The results are clear when we all talk with one voice and it’s essential for investors to be clear on who we are, where we are and what are our strengths and key differentiators.”