The race to be the next chief executive of Advantage West Midlands is believed to be down to just two people.
The gossip is that current deputy Mick Laverty is battling English Partnerships regional director for the North West and West Midlands, Paul Spooner.
There was no official confirmation yesterday that the fight to succeed the departing John Edwards is near an end. However an announcement is expected before Christmas.
A source said: "Word on the street is that there are now two candidates. The current deputy Mick Laverty is one - not surprisingly.
"The other is Paul Spooner. Certainly, he'd have the experience in regeneration, perhaps less so in some of the economic development work."
A second source confirmed the two frontrunners but believed there may be a third mystery candidate. Mr Edwards is due to leave in the spring.
The AWM board will make the decision which is rubber stamped by Liam Byrne, Minister for the West Midlands.
The switch comes at an interesting time.
The process for recruiting Nick Paul's replacement as AWM chairman is expected to begin in January, and the agency is set to get big new powers over planning and housing over the next two years as Regional Assemblies are abolished.
When the post was advertised, AWM said it was looking for someone intellectually-rigorous and an inspirational visionary, but who still possessed the common touch.
It is considered one of the most difficult jobs in the region. Applicants must display political nous and the ability to get on with and impress everyone from councillors and business leaders to ministers.
London-based headhunters Verdus made it clear the job was "not for the faint-hearted".
The new man will get a £300 million-a-year budget effectively to deliver on the likes of economic regeneration, job creation and improving workforce skills.
Although AWM has been in existence since 1999, the West Midlands still lags behind most other regions with higher than average unemployment and poor qualifications among school leavers.
In addition to a £160,000 salary, the new chief executive will qualify for a 20 per cent performance-related bonus, taking the maximum annual pay to £192,000, and up to seven weeks' holiday a year.
The job description read: "As an inspirational and effective leader you will provide the strategic direction for the organisation. Your strong negotiating and influencing skills will be tested to the full. This is not a role for the faint-hearted - with huge capacity for a challenging workload, you need to have a massive enthusiasm for the task."
Mr Laverty, deputy chief executive and corporate director of resources and operations, is an accountant with a career background in local government in London and the Midlands.
He is responsible for all of the 2,500 projects and programmes funded by Advantage West Midlands in addition to the finance, human resources, facilities, and IT teams within the Agency.
Additionally, he has responsibility for Advantage West Midlands' development work which includes major land and property schemes such as Ventureast and Longbridge Technology Park in Birmingham and i54 and Bilston Urban Village in the Black Country.
Mr Spooner joined English Partnerships in January 2004 from his previous post as director of economic development at Birmingham City Council.
In that job he had responsibility for city centre regeneration and major economic development projects.
Affable and approachable, he had a reputation for being open and engaging. However some believed that though he talked a good game there was a question mark over how much he delivered.