The latest from the Black Country 

The Industrial Heart of the UK Needs its Own Skills and Transport Strategy says Black Country Chamber President Ninder Johal

In response to comments made by Jerry Blackett, CEO of Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, about the National Infrastructure Commission needing to understand local needs, Black Country Chamber of Commerce President Ninder Johal said: “I totally agree with Jerry’s comments. The Midlands, the Industrial Heart of the UK, has specific needs that fundamentally differ from those in the South and those involved in building the Northern Powerhouse.

“For example, Black Country manufacturers tend to operate in niches offering high quality services to other supply chain businesses that require low production volumes but a rapid turnaround. We have a craft heritage that has carried forward into today’s business environment. Their transport and skills needs are completely different from OEM and the services sector. HS2 means a lot less to them than their customers being able to drive their trucks or vans across the Black Country and into the motorway network.

“Government policy seems to value the contribution of large service companies rather than businesses that make things.”

Commenting on the English devolution debate, which is gathering impetus following the vote on Scottish independence, Ninder said “Our members have told us that they want to see devolved powers at a Midlands level. Therefore as a local Chamber for the Black Country, we need to better understand how we can join forces with Chambers of Commerce across the Midlands and articulate our needs with a single clear voice that represents the Industrial Heart of the UK. Neither the South East nor the Northern Powerhouse will be able to function effectively if the heart of the UK’s industry does not receive the support and attention it warrants.

“There will be challenges ahead and we are leading the way in terms of demonstrating how a local economy can be doubled over a ten year period through focused activity on skills, transport and simplifying the business environment. I look forward to sharing our aims with my peers across the Industrial Heart of the UK.”

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