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West Midlands still a major draw for foreign investment

New report says region attracted a record amount of overseas investment with 26 different countries committing to West Midlands during past year

Above All Birmingham skyline for Britain From the Air exhibition, showing Grand Central and the Rotunda
Birmingham and the West Midlands continue to attract foreign investment

The West Midlands secured a record 111 foreign direct investment projects in 2016, with over 50 per cent coming from the manufacturing sector.

This follows a landmark year in 2015 when a surge in FDI saw 92 projects locating in the region and the highest number recorded in a decade, according to latest Attractiveness Report published by financial services firm EY.

Birmingham continued to dominate the West Midlands region in terms of attracting FDI by securing 36 projects in 2016 - up from 24 in 2015.

Coventry and Solihull followed with 15 and six projects respectively.

Fifty per cent of the West Midlands' total FDI projects were from the manufacturing sector and strong growth was seen from the financial and business services sector which secured 20 per cent of the total number of projects (23) in 2016.

The majority of investment in the West Midlands originated from Europe, with 61 projects coming from European countries.

On an individual country basis, the US was the biggest investor in the West Midlands with 23 projects, followed by Germany with 21.

In total, the FDI secured in the West Midlands was generated from 26 different countries across the globe.

In 2016, the majority of UK regions saw an increase in projects, with just four seeing a decline when compared with the previous year: Wales, the North East, North West and South West.

However, investors predict a decline in the UK's future attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment.

Sara Fowler, senior partner at EY in the Midlands, said: "It's been another outstanding year for inward investment, with the West Midlands now the third best performing UK region for attracting FDI.

"The implementation of the Midlands Engine strategy should serve to attract more businesses and skilled people to the region which in turn will boost employment and productivity.

"With the appointment of Andy Street as mayor to head up our regional growth strategy and the creation of the West Midlands Growth Company to promote our region on a global stage, we're looking for these authorities to champion the Midlands Engine to ensure it remains attractive, competitive and connected."

Neil Rami, chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, which operates inward investment programme Business Birmingham, added: "The West Midlands continues to attract a wave of overseas investors, confirming the region's strength as an international business and investment destination.

"Global names ranging from Amazon to engineering firm Detroit Electric and Allegis, a HR and recruitment technology specialist, are locating and thriving here.

"The region boasts a large and talented workforce, plus a highly entrepreneurial business environment.

"As the only UK region to have two HS2 stations, the West Midlands also has an unrivalled plan for growth and connectivity that will help to boost the economy locally and across the UK."

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