At last. The West Midlands has got its act together and will create a combined authority, Manchester style, to drive the devolution of new powers and resources.

The hope is that the combined authority can become the "lynchpin for national economic recovery".

That might sound a bit over-hyped but given that the West Midlands region is getting on with the heavy lifting of increasing output, exporting and creating jobs, the council leaders backing the idea actually have a pretty good point.

What this means is that council leaders from the four Black Country councils and Birmingham have made an agreement in principle to work as a combined authority in a move which could pull in significant investment to create jobs and improve transport links.

As Coun Darren Cooper, leader of Sandwell Council, said: "It would give us major decision-making powers at a local level and more influence over how money is spent.

"The four Black Country councils are already working very closely together and have already secured £12 million for high-speed broadband, attracted Jaguar Land Rover to the region and benefited from £7.6million in Growing Priority Sectors funding which has safeguarded hundreds of jobs. The combined authority will be an extension of this kind of work."

Interestingly, this 'Black Country 4 plus Brum' combo have also invited Solihull and Coventry, plus other neighbouring councils, to join in the negotiations, with the goal of building a "broad and deep coalition for prosperity" for the region. It could be a 'Super Combined Authority'.

The move comes as both Tories and Labour have scrapped to offer more funding and powers to cities and regions that form combined authorities.

Today's announcement means that the West Midlands will be able to take advantage of that opportunity along with other cities.

It's a much needed move. So far, all the 'Combo Authority' action had been happening up north and the West Midlands was in danger of missing out on devolution.

Last April, Westminster gave the OK to a combined authority made up of co-operating councils in the North East to pool resources from local authorities comprising Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

This North East combined authority became the fifth to get up-and-running after others were created in Manchester, Merseyside, West Yorkshire and Sheffield.

Of course, things have proved much more difficult here in the West Midlands where until today local authorities had failed to get their act together and risked being left behind at the devolution pantomime.

This is all became hugely pressing for the region after the recent report of the City Growth Commission.

It nominated the existing five northern combined authorities as the first city regions to have devolved powers, thus leaving out the West Midlands.

It's this danger which prompted an impassioned plea from the leader of Sandwell Council, Darren Cooper, to Birmingham's leader, Sir Albert Bore, just a few weeks ago, with Cooper stating: "Unless we see some positive move before Christmas, we in the Black Country will go it alone. We will be saying to Birmingham do you want to join us? If you don't want to join us we will look elsewhere."

Cooper's throwing down of the gauntlet sent shockwaves through local authority corridors.

He has eventually managed to bang heads together and stitch together a deal that overcomes decades of rivalry.

So, we should congratulate the local authority leaders who have made this happen. What's also impressive is that, if Solihull and Coventry do join, then that could create a 'Super Combined Authority' that really would make economic sense.

That's critical as - at some point - a genuinely regional scale will have to be back on the agenda to join up the work of fragmented LEPs in the region. When it does, the lessons from the 'old' RDAs, both positive and negative, will need to be remembered.

Effective devolution needs an ability to join things up, to 'think regionally', and to have real control over policy areas like transport, regional economic development, health and welfare, the environment and tourism.  A West Midlands 'Super Combo' – which could represent over 3.4 million people - could start to do just that. Bring it on.

West Midlands' council leaders will now look to finalise the finer details of the agreement, including the not-uncontroversial official name for the new combined authority.

The priority of initial discussions is likely to be to establish the role and remit of the combined authority and also critically at the most suitable leadership model for the West Midlands.

That might mean a more collaborative form of leadership than an elected metro-mayor, with for example an executive board made up of local council leaders, LEP chairs and possibly representatives of voluntary groups and unions.

Professor David Bailey works at the Aston Business School