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PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION

BUSINESS IS DONE BETTER TOGETHER

BUSINESS CHIEFS CALL ON CHANCELLOR TO BACK £3.2BN BLUEPRINT TO RECHARGE WEST MIDLANDS ECONOMY

More than 600 of the region’s top business leaders have called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to back a £3.2bn blueprint designed to kickstart the West Midlands economy.

Bosses from across the region have signed a joint letter to the Chancellor urging him to put the Government’s financial firepower behind a far-reaching plan which aims to recharge the regional economy and create long-term prosperity.

The blueprint – Kickstarting the West Midlands Economy: Our Investment Case to Government – was presented to the government earlier this month after being collectively drawn up by the region’s political, business, and trade union leaders.

The region has already received £84m from the government to continue its work on regenerating brownfield sites to build new homes.

Now hundreds more bosses are backing the plan and pressing the government to help reset, rebuild and recharge the region with manufacturers, service industries and universities, leading hospitality and culture businesses, among the 610 who have signed the letter.

In their letter to the Chancellor, which was submitted by Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, with the support of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Chambers across the region, business chiefs say the government’s support is vital to recharge the region’s economy and drive national recovery.

 

Tim Pile, chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and a member of the steering group who helped to create the blueprint, said, “This clear demonstration of support from leaders of the regional economy for the blueprint is a fantastic reflection of the close partnership working across sectors which have gone into the development of these plans.

"Collaboration and strong leadership will be crucial elements to achieving a rapid recovery.

“As highlighted in the investment case, it’s important that we create and foster new opportunities in areas that will be key drivers of sustainable economic growth, including green technologies, advanced manufacturing, construction and digital healthcare. “The West Midlands already has great strengths in these sectors that can be built upon to secure future prosperity for our businesses and residents.

“The West Midlands already makes a substantial contribution to the UK economy and will play a critical role in achieving a strong national recovery. We now need the Government’s support to accelerate this contribution even further, and we are very grateful for the swift action of business leaders to show their support and sign our region’s letter to the Chancellor.”

Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economic growth, added, “With 496,000 West Midlanders on furlough, together with forecasts that our region will be among the worst hit, we know the size of the challenge.

“An immediate cash injection will help our communities now, pay dividends for generations and avoid the risks of long-term scarring to young people as highlighted by experts like the Institute for Fiscal Studies. “Our clear, credible recovery plan will deliver for businesses, the economy, the environment and most of all for everyone who lives or works in the WMCA area.”

Corin Crane, said, "Our region generates £105bn of GVA and represents 5.5% of the UK’s economic output. We have seen the COVID-19 emergency and lockdown measures substantially impact many of us in terms of how we operate, who we can service, our order books and our workforce.

"Whilst the financial support provided by the Government to date during the emergency has helped a number of us to merely survive; we now need to look to the future in order to combat the economic challenges which lie ahead and help us as a business community to increase our resilience and ability to rebound quickly.

"That’s why we back the West Midlands Combined Authority’s 'Recharge the West Midlands' proposal. It builds on the distinct nature of our region, it safeguards and creates jobs, it invests in innovation and most importantly it will recharge our economy and start to level up the region by allowing the West Midlands to continue the growth we enjoyed before COVID-19 slowed us down."

The blueprint put to Government includes three key business opportunities to create and safeguard thousands of jobs:

  • Creating green manufacturing jobs by harnessing clean technology and electrification

  • Turning HS2, Coventry City of Culture and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games into jobs for local people by accelerating major infrastructure investment

  • Investing in healthcare innovation, capitalising on the region’s existing strengths as a centre for health research, and using this to improve the region’s health

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said, “I am very encouraged that so many businesses from across our region have come together to back our investment blueprint. The human and economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating, but the West Midlands has acted together and at pace, and with the necessary support from Government we will be able to bounce back strongly.

“The blueprint is a mix of shorter and longer-term schemes that will make a real difference to jobs in our region, and I am pleased to see some of that cash has already started flowing with the £84m we received this week to continue our Brownfield remediation work.

“We need to do everything we can to help keep people in work or get them back in as fast as feasibly possible, and this blueprint will help achieve exactly that. I am delighted we have the support of local businesses, now we need the Government to get on board too.”

The letter can be viewed HERE

The list of signatories can be viewed HERE

JUST TWO WEEKS LEFT TO SUBMIT BUSINESS FESTIVAL EVENTS

Businesses have just two more weeks to get their applications in to run an event in the Black Country Business Festival, before the closing date of 14th August. 

With over 75 events, the Business Festival is looking to be as popular as ever with a mix of digital, physical and hybrid events lighting up the programme. 

Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, which initiated the BFBF three years ago, said, “Businesses in the Black Country are really embracing the Business Festival and I think it will be a true showcase of the Black Country’s resilience, putting our region in the national limelight. As we are emerging from the pandemic, our region is really showing its true colours with an air of positivity that is second to none.

 

“Events are crucial to making the Festival a success and we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for people. The structure has adapted to allow digital, live-streamed, hybrid events as well as the normal, physical events. By running an event, organisers stand to get recognition and be seen to be leading the way in their field. It’s a great way to raise awareness at the same time as helping other businesses and contributing to rebuilding our economy.”

The programme already contains a great selection of different events which range across a variety of sectors and subjects. The University of Wolverhampton’s Science in Industry Research Centre (SIRC) will be running a virtual event about IP (Intellectual Property) product innovation and development registration and protection. 

SIRC supports SMEs in the Black Country to develop new science-based products and processes - and eligible applicants benefit from initial fully-funded support to refine their product concept and its development requirements.

The Black Country Consortium is developing a plan to cut carbon emissions in the Black Country while maintaining and improving industrial competitiveness and wants to engage with Black Country businesses in their event ‘A Roadmap for Decarbonising and Repowering the Black Country’.

Gecko Programmes will be helping team managers to nurture and develop team and individual performance in a world of rapid technological, cultural and economic change, through their event, ‘Building teams in an age of uncertainty.’

Gemma West, project manager from Associate Events (the agency managing the BCBF) said, “We have created a digital platform on Zoom to take all the hassle away from event organisers having to set up their own systems. It’s very user-friendly and we will be walking people through how to use it and carrying out full testing before their events. 

“We are hoping that it will be possible to run physical events in October and we urge people to check with their venues about social distancing measures. 

“Anyone can put on an event, which can be about anything so long as it benefits other businesses.  There is more information on the website, or I would be very happy to help if anyone has any questions.”

The BCBF relies on sponsorship from organisations in the Black Country, which has automatically rolled over to October.

 

The Festival Partners include the University of Wolverhampton, Talbots Law, Dudley Business First, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and the Black Country Growth Hub; sponsors are: Wolverhampton Racecourse, Thomas Dudley, Casino36 and M6toll.

 

The Festival is also supported by Gecko Programmes, Sandwell Council and Walsall Council with media partners, Elonex, Signal 107 and Metro and app partner, Infonote.

The 2020 Business Festival will be taking place right across the Black Country from 5-15 October.

Anyone wishing to submit an event needs to simply visit the BCBF website blackcountrybusinessfestival.com and complete the short application form providing details about their event, date and time. 

For more information or help, businesses should email:

hello@blackcountrybusinessfestival.com

Telephone: 01902 912304 

CHAMBER’S FINANCE FINDER – TRANSFORMING MEMBERS’ ACCESS TO BUSINESS FINANCE

A new business funding matching tool looking to revolutionise access to finance for businesses in the Black Country has been helping businesses source funding for over two months now.

The Chamber Finance Finder allows member businesses fast and simple access to all funding options across loans, equity and grants – simplifying, speeding up and streamlining the application process for them.

Businesses are struggling to access the finance they need, so the Black Country Chamber is utilising financial technology to provide access to both government and non-government funding options via a new partnership with Swoop Funding, supported by the British Chambers of Commerce.

In addition to access to funding tailored for their specific business needs, members are enjoying other exclusive benefits such as a dedicated Chamber Finance Finder hotline providing guidance to businesses’ funding queries, plus a free financial health check, as well as finance alerts and updates.

Corin Crane, Black Country Chamber CEO said, “With cash flow a key concern for many businesses in our region, it’s essential firms can access the support they need. By ensuring all firms have fast and simple access to finance we can safeguard the businesses that have built our community. We’re delighted to be offering the Chamber Finance Finder to make this happen”.

With the latest figures from Swoop showing fewer than 50% of businesses are accessing the loans needed, it is essential that organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce address the challenges in the process.

This new tool, powered by one of UK’s most admired fintech, Swoop Funding, matches businesses with funding from over 1,000 providers.

Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said “Business communities are facing unprecedented challenges, and access to finance remains a pressing issue for so many firms.

"The Chamber Finance Finder will help companies the length and breadth of the UK find finance options that will help them restart, rebuild and renew their operations.”

For further information please email:

membership@blackcountrychamber.co.uk

Visit the website

PARTNERSHIP BRINGING SUPPORT ON BUSINESSES ESSENTIALS

Free of charge for members, Quest Cover offers access to a complete package of resource and support materials crucial for every business.

 

Launched in April, and in collaboration with Quest, the partnership provides Chamber members with vital support and expertise from integrated resource consultants, Quest Cover who are providing a complete package of resource and support materials crucial for every business.

Quest Cover provides HR, LEGAL, TAX, HEALTH & SAFETY SUPPORT and gives Chamber members access to an extensive document library with almost 800 downloadable documents that can be used in their business.

Members have access to a range of essential support services and savings including:

  • CHAMBER HR: focused on HR and employment law support

  • CHAMBER LEGAL: commercial legal support and levels of cover

  • CHAMBER TAX: expert support to answer your questions and resolve issues

  • CHAMBER HEALTH AND SAFETY: support to help you operate safely and remain compliant

Quest is the exclusive British Chambers of Commerce recommended provider to the UK network and currently partner with 51 Chambers supporting over 42,000 members.

The value of services used by members in 2019 was a staggering £1,900,235.

Find out about using the service here: 

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