In a move sure to irritate those who think Birmingham is already too influential, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday underlined the prominent role the city must play within the West Midlands Regional Economic Strategy.
Chamber chief executive Jerry Blackett said in a letter to Advantage West Midlands that it supported the RDA's recognition of Birmingham as the "leading city centre and economic powerhouse of the region and its crucial role in providing an international profile for the West Midlands across Birmingham and Solihull".
He added: "Birmingham's competitiveness must continue to be a priority in order for the vision of the West Midlands as a world-class region in which to invest, work, learn, visit and live to be realised.
"Core cities are widely recognised, not least by Government, as the economic drivers of regional growth, as well as strengthening the national economy's growth capacity.
"As a result, it is right that the RES should give prominence to Birmingham. By developing closer links with Birmingham, I believe that AWM can achieve the most advantageous solutions for the wider region in terms of economic and strategic planning.
"Birmingham is key to enhancing productivity within the region, as well as tackling broader challenges around connectivity, sustainable growth and social equity. Birmingham has a critical mass of strategic businesses, knowledge institutions and cultural facilities that attract and retain higher value business functions for the region as a whole.
"The strategic importance of Birmingham needs to be made clear across the region. Successful economies need strong regions, with strong cities at the heart.
"Birmingham's relationship with the wider region is one of interdependence, not competition. The region will benefit considerably from the economic growth that Birmingham compels, which is why a Birmingham-focus must be a priority for the RES."
Meanwhile the chamber agreed that West Midland employers who benefit from the availability of skilled and cheaper labour from other countries should offer language training and family support. In its reaction to the Commission for Integration and Cohesion report on social cohesion published yesterday, the Chamber said it accepted that employers should be encouraged to take responsibility for integrating migrant workers and their families into UK society.
Welcoming the report's findings, Mr Blackett said: "The report is right in its conclusions that it is not acceptable to simply bus in cheap labour from Eastern Europe and then expect UK society to pick up the associated costs.
"Good employers already make provision for integrating migrant workers into the workplace but there is much more which could be done."
As for the report's observations on employers taking more responsibility for migrant workers' families, Mr Blackett said: "It is valid but also in difficult territory.
"There will be a blurred line between what is the responsibility of the employer and what individuals need to take responsibility for themselves."
Mr Blackett said the Chamber was right behind the recommendation that there should be regional forums made up of government offices, employers, trade unions and race relation bodies to examine the issues
surrounding integration in the workplace. "Given the massive demographic and ethnic changes Birmingham has seen and continues to enjoy, a regional forum looking at areas of discord and what can be done to solve them, is particularly relevant," he said.
The Chamber, he promised, would be happy to play a significant and leading contribution in the establishment of such an assembly.
"It is important in Birmingham that we realise that diversity itself is not a problem at all and in fact is one of our greatest assets.
"What is a challenge is the rapidity of change and how we are coping with an economy that has transformed so dramatically since the 1980s. The move away from heavy industry, manufacturing and textiles into a knowledge economy is a journey we are still on and it's a bumpy one.
"When you add the arrival of migrant labour to the economic transformation, the pace of change becomes yet more challenging.
"Birmingham has enjoyed a terrific record of stability in recent decades and we are in a position to show leadership to the rest of Europe."