With regards to the Industrial Strategy, Corin commented: “Getting the implementation right is paramount, combined with the necessary funding, if we are to achieve a sustainable impact on the region’s economy. We have been talking to our members about this Strategy since it was issued in January, and we intend to provide the Government with a comprehensive view from the Black Country business community.
“In particular, our members have responded by identifying key issues and offering solutions relating to skills, access to finance, securing contracts, energy costs, transport issues and international trade. The engagement that we have seen from local businesses has been wholly encouraging, and we as a Chamber intend to take their messages to the heart of Government and seek action that will drive long-term economic growth for the region.”
The 10 Government pillars and Black Country Chamber responses:
Investing in Science, Research and Innovation
The Chamber is calling for the transfer of smart technology from universities to local businesses.
A key area of concern for Black Country businesses is skills, as they would like to see more targeted support for employees in the middle of their career to access new skills and a shift to more technical focused apprenticeships. Another area of immediate concern is the lack of HGV qualified drivers.
Upgrading Digital, Energy, Transport, Water and Flood Defence Infrastructure
Regarding broadband, the Chamber is calling for increased download speeds, so that the region can compete on an international scale.
Infrastructure investment, which is equal to other major cities, on key transport routes to allow the manufacturing supply chain to operate more effectively is also very important for Black Country businesses.
An energy supply network is also a want for Black Country businesses, as they want something that is fit for purpose and will encourage local business to grow.
Ensuring Businesses Can Access the Finance and Management Skills They Need to Grow
Bank Lending has been squeezed by £35 billion since 2011, therefore better access to finance is vital to ensure that small businesses can reach their full potential.
Improving Government Procurement
The Chamber is calling for greater use of procurement portals for large projects such as HS2 and local authority spending moving forward, following on from previous experiences such as the London Olympics 2012.
Encouraging Trade and Inward Investment
Export opportunities are important to Black Country based businesses and to help them achieve success overseas they require excellent support both locally and in the export locations from experts that can help to add value.
Delivering Affordable Energy and Moving to a Low-Carbon Economy
Energy supply at internationally competitive prices is something that is vital for local business. The British network costs are too high and supply costs have increased despite falling internationally, this is especially negative due to the high proportion of heavy industry and therefore high energy users in the region.
Cultivating World-Leading Sectors
To cultivate world-leading sectors, SMEs need effective collaboration with higher education partners and technology parks moving forward.
Driving Growth Across the Whole Country
The Chamber is calling for the Government to incentivise a direct liaison between education providers and businesses in order to ensure that skills provision in the future is relevant to local business needs.
Creating the Right Institutions to Bring Together Sectors and Places
We need to ensure the region makes the most of the new Mayor and Combined Authority in the area. The Chamber also champions the support and genuine collaboration with national institutions.