Plans for the regeneration of some of the most deprived communities in East Birmingham and North Solihull were launched at Millennium Point last night.
Chairman John Taylor unveiled the £55 million three-year plan for the East Birmingham North Solihull (EBNS) Regeneration Zone, outlining how the zone will safeguard and create jobs and develop skills.
The zone is one of six established by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands to be responsible for a budget of more than £280 million for 2005-07.
It has more than 400,000 residents and provides employment for more than 170,000 people. Thirty-five per cent of its population is from ethnic minorities.
Stretching from Aston Science Park, through Eastside and Bordesley Green into Chelmsley Wood, the zone is home to some of the highest levels of unemployment and deprivation, despite being close to some of the biggest physical regeneration projects in the region such as the Bullring and Eastside.
The aims is to enable people to take advantage of projects such as the Centre for the Built Environment in Bordesley Green which opened this year and is already training hundreds of students in essential construction skills.
Chairman John Taylor, formerly of Cadbury Schweppes, said: "We feel passionately about the area and are determined to have a positive impact on the lives of those that live and work in the zone.
"We will do everything we can to create a climate in which local businesses thrive and residents are able to obtain the skills they need to compete effectively for job opportunities."
Other projects already receiving or allocated funding from the East Birmingham North Solihull (EBNS) Regeneration Zone include:
* The Bordesley Centre - the £5.1 million complex in Stratford Road, Camp Hill, which will help thousands of residents in some of the poorest parts of Birmingham access job opportunities being created at Eastside.
* North Solihull Learning Village - a £13.6 million flagship development for Solihull College as its North Solihull site.
* HRH Shard End - a £3.5 million project which will see students from the Construction Centre of Excellence help to build a flagship community project.
* Eastside - funding valued at £5 million each year towards the development of the Learning and Leisure Quarter.
* Employment Transport Link - a £600,000 scheme which has enabled hundreds of people get to work.
The zone is staffed by a secretariat based at Aston Science Park and directed by a partnership consisting of a mixture of public and private sector representatives, with a private sector chairman.
Advantage West Midlands chief executive John Edwards said: "What encapsulates the role of our regeneration zones is their objective of linking the opportunities that exist while addressing the needs of communities.
"The distinct separation between opportunity and need, and the importance of linking the two, is perhaps most obvious here in the East Birmingham North Solihull Regeneration Zone.
"For more than a decade now, Birmingham has been a by-word for success.
"But yet, despite the renaissance of the city centre, just miles away are some of the most deprived communities in our region.
"The East Birmingham North Solihull Regeneration Zone is working towards making sure the opportunities created on its own doorstep, benefit the people that live within the Zone."