New data shows a double boost for the Black Country, with rising visitor numbers and foreign investment.
The region secured a 15 per cent rise in the number of new jobs created through foreign direct investment (FDI) projects – from 224 to 257 in 2012/13.
Its leisure sector also secured a timely boost, with a 21 per cent increase in visitor numbers to its attractions in 2012 compared with 2011.
Among the success stories across the year were the expansion of Midland company UTC Aerospace Systems in Wolverhampton – with an extra 200 people recruited at its Fordhouses site – and the acquisition of Aldridge-based industrial machine repairs company Lektronix by US firm Rockwell Automation.
Wayne Langford, head of investment, programmes and development at Invest Black Country, said: “The region is now really upping its game as a location that successfully attracts foreign investors and is creating local employment as a result.”
Invest Black Country, the development agency for the area, was established to spur more investment and create stronger collaboration between Birmingham and the Black Country.
Mr Langford said the rise in job creation came after the average number of jobs created per investment also grew to 26, compared with 22 in 2011/12.
Meanwhile, tourist venues in the Black Country – including Dudley Zoological Gardens and The Black Country Living Museum – helped deliver a financial boost.
Visitors to tourist attractions went up by more than 840,000, from 3.9 million to 4.8 million.
Overall, the region’s total visitor numbers hit 25.2 million in 2012.
Following this activity, the Black Country visitor economy was valued at £777.4 million in 2012, an increase of six per cent – £47 million – since 2011.
It has been aided by promotion headed up by Marketing Birmingham, including a national television commercial for the living museum that aired throughout June 2012.
Peter Suddock, chief executive of Dudley Zoological Gardens (DZG), said it enjoyed a 17 per cent rise in visitor numbers between January and July. It is undergoing a £3 million improvement programme to include new shops, food outlets and signage.
Mr Suddock, chair of Visit the Black Country Partnership, said: “These are exciting times at DZG with year-on-year visitor growth and our continued significant investment programme well underway – given the current economic climate this is marvellous news.
“The big rises of double figures have come in the past two years and are due to investment across DZG’s 40-acre site, rebranding and daily website activity which has gained us access to a whole new market.”
Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, said the results showed the value of collaborative working across the West Midlands.
He said: “By delivering successful campaigns with our Black Country partners like Dudley Zoological Gardens and Invest Black Country, the wider region’s national and international profile as a business and tourism hub has continued to grow, with Birmingham seeing similarly positive improvements.”