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MIPIM 2014: Regions unite under Greater Birmingham banner

Birmingham and the Black Country speak as one at property conference, as leaders seek to make the most of HS2, UK Central and other key schemes

Birmingham is taking more delegates than ever to this year’s MIPIM conference

Parts of the West Midlands separated by political lines will speak as one – under the Greater Birmingham banner – at this year’s MIPIM conference.

More than 27 partners form the Birmingham delegation at MIPIM 2014 – more than ever before – to promote its flagship schemes and infrastructure projects.

But for the first time, the Greater Birmingham offer will bring in investment opportunities from the Black Country and Solihull in a truly regional focus.

Business and political leaders say this will benefit the region by selling itself to the world as one.

 

However, while the areas are working together in Cannes, it is not thought that a merger with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and its Black Country equivalent is on the cards.

Steve Hollis, deputy chair of the GBSLEP, said the region was benefiting from political “bravery”.
He said: “I think we are seeing huge political bravery. What these politicians are doing is actually demonstrating that the economic agenda doesn’t end at the old-fashioned boundaries that were drawn up years ago.

“The leaders have got to look after the people who voted for them, but by getting around the wider economic agenda, the politicians are doing a great thing to drive jobs and growth.”

The world’s largest real estate show takes place in Cannes, France, from March 11 to 14.

It hosts more than 20,000 participants from 80 countries, ranging from global investors to chief executives and journalists. Virtually all major European cities attend the event to showcase their latest developments to potential funders.

Coun Ian Courts, cabinet portfolio holder for economic development and regeneration at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council said it would be the borough’s first time attending MIPIM.

It has much to promote, with a HS2 station round the corner and the UK Central scheme to bring in more investment in the M42 corridor.

He said: “We have got to work together with the rest of the West Midlands to promote the interests of the region.

“We have different but complementary assets that we can all promote together to bring in investment.”

He added: “It is all about cooperation, we are part of the local enterprise partnership with Birmingham and others and the relationship with people overseas is important, and they aren’t likely to recognise Solihull.

“One of the reasons for UK Central is to give us a locational focus.

The wider region plans to focus on its growing transport networks at MIPIM, including how HS2 is joining Birmingham with the UK’s other regional economic centres; Birmingham New Street station’s £600 million transformation; and the £65 million runway extension at Birmingham Airport bringing long-haul destinations closer to the city.

Birmingham will also showcase flagship sites such as its economic zones – led by the city centre enterprise zone – which are offering investors financial benefits, business support, planning flexibility and 1.8 million sq metres of new floorspace. Key sectors under the spotlight will include Birmingham’s growing technology scene.

The Post reported last week how political leaders in Birmingham and the Black Country had ushered in a new era of co-operation.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said: “There is a growing consensus that economic leadership needs to take place at a city region level.”

Stewart Towe, chairman of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and managing director of rolled steel manufacturer the Hadley Group, told the gathering that the “competitive element” in the relationship between Birmingham and the Black Country had gone.

He added: “There really is a new spirit of co-operation. It is about time that this joint effort is put fully to the fore, because we are together far stronger than we are apart, and we are not working together.

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