Birmingham aims to become a "city of excellence" for manufacturing by 2015 under new proposals which will be launched tomorrow.

Making Things Happen: A Strategy for Manufacturing in Birmingham 2006-2015 has been put together by a number of agencies throughout the city, including Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Produced by Birmingham City Council, it sets out key challenges for manufacturing in the city over the next nine years:

* Changing the image and perception of the manufacturing sector

* Providing a high-quality infrastructure which meets its needs

* Increasing entrepreneurship and innovation n Developing a highly-skilled and adaptable workforce

* Encouraging a more diverse workforce.

The strategy will be launched by Coun Ken Hardeman, cabinet member for regeneration, at a special event organised by BCI at one of the oldest established manufacturing companies in the city, Hockley-based Firmin & Sons.

Kasia Kurowska, policy adviser at the chamber, said: "Manufacturing continues to play a key part in Birmingham's and the West Midlands' economy.

"There are over 3,500 manufacturing businesses in the Birmingham and Solihull area, employing over 60,000 people.

"Although 98 per cent of those companies are small to medium sized enterprises the sector accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the gross value added economy in the region.

"While the chamber welcomes the strategy's emphasis on partnership across public and private organisations and bodies, efforts must be made to ensure that all existing initiatives and programmes are utilised in the city to ensure the strategy achieves its objectives."

Coun Hardeman added: "Local manufacturers continue to make a huge contribution to Birmingham's economy and provide jobs for tens of thousands of people. The city is home to some of the world's most innovative manufacturers, and our universities have put us at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development in areas such as fuel cell technology and nano-industries.

"But many of our local businesses still rely on traditional markets and volume production, and remain dangerously exposed to the competitive pressures of global markets.

"If Birmingham's renaissance is to continue into the next decade and beyond, we need to enable local firms to secure their future in global markets. Working together with local businesses and public sector partners, this new strategy will enable local manufacturers to fulfill their potential and to continue to provide high quality employment for local people."

Tim Newnes, group managing director of Kashket and Partners, Firmin's parent company, said: "The city's manufacturing heritage is a crucial part of its history and future; the sector still represents a key part of Birmingham's economy."