The latest from the Black Country 

Black Country Chamber of Commerce – New Year Resolutions

Ninder JohalReviewing the Black Country Chamber of Commerce business plan for 2014/15 President Ninder Johal said, “In 2014 we pledged to double the size of the Black Country economy over the next ten years. We created our plan for the first year and we are now in the process of creating a new plan for 2015/16. In the same way that many of us as individuals will have come up with New Year resolutions to say, get fitter, spend more time with loved ones or chase our dreams, the Black Country Chamber of Commerce has once again resolved to bring significant economic benefits to the region.

“As the industrial heart of the UK we keep the Northern Powerhouse alive. Manufacturing is an essential part of the UK economy and so often overlooked in the past in favour of financial services. Our latest survey results show that we cannot take the resurgence of manufacturing for granted and it worries me that coming up to the election, I do not recognise the real needs of business in politicians’ rhetoric. 

“To make things clear for all of our local and national MPs, I have itemised our resolutions below. These are the areas we will be lobbying for and are covered in our manifesto and aims. We have high expectations from the next government to put aside party differences and make the changes necessary to underpin a resurgence of industry across the UK and revitalise the Black Country in particular.

1.  The development of a coherent transport infrastructure plan for the whole UK. One that is both compelling and attractive to private investment. We need to ensure that our aviation and high speed rail strategies support the rebalancing of the economy rather than working in opposite directions. We need to invest in roads to overcome the local and motorway gridlock that plagues the region and reduces our attractiveness for inward investment. For every £1 spent on roads there is a £4 economic benefit.

2.  Our businesses are paralysed as a result of the skills shortages. We want a local trailblazer programme that enables small niche manufacturers to equip themselves with young apprentices. We want schools to work much more closely with employers to retain and develop talent rather than focus on a race for often meaningless qualifications. We will take the lead in the provision of careers guidance so that our young people understand the reality of work and can fill local vacancies.

3.   We want to provide local employers with more support to help them export. In the last quarter the number of Black Country manufacturers who have increased exports has dropped to its lowest level for 5 years. We need the expert resources to work with local businesses to help develop growth strategies based on exporting.

“This is a small list but fulfilling these needs will make a significant impact on the area. Our next plan will hold us responsible for developing innovative ways to make use of the business talent in the Black Country to help all local businesses grow. As our ten year aim slowly unfurls, our resolve will continue to increase. Black Country businesses deserve the best so they can make the best for the rest of the world.”

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