The West Midlands' response to the MG Rover crash has made the region more attractive to foreign investors and could help turn it into a European economic powerhouse, it has been claimed.
Sir Albert Bore, former Birmingham City Council leader, said the region had learnt from the aftermath of the 2000 Longbridge crisis to improve its skill levels and diversify.
This now stood the region in good stead for increasing the value added and knowledgebased qualities which could attract more overseas firms.
Speaking at the World Investment Conference, Sir Albert said the region had all the fundamentals in place to achieve greater economic success.
A skilled and flexible workforce together with support from local agencies and infrastructure meant Birmingham could soon take its place among the European
But in order to do so, it needed to focus increasingly on knowledge-based and value added industries, said Sir Albert, who was in La Baule in his role as vice president of the European Union's Committee of the Regions.
He said: "New jobs are not going to come in some of the traditional low value added industries which the West Midlands has been renowned for.
"They are going to come from developing the human capital of the region by improving educational achievement standards, upskilling and moving into higher added value areas, moving into the knowledge economy. That is where Europe is going to succeed against the tiger economies of India and China the Far East, through the UK being a knowledge economy.
"We have got to reflect that in the West Midlands. Birmingham much of the last ten years has been about addressing that agenda."
Sir Albert said lessons had been learned from the 2000 MG Rover crisis, which meant the number of job losses was now significantly lower as companies diversified away from Longbridge.
"The current crisis is a lesson which has been learnt. The West Midlands over the past five years has learnt it has to diversify, and has done so. We have made a lot of progress with some of the components companies moving over to supplying aerospace for example from motor manufacture.
"The way we have restructured the industry and up skilled over the past five years is a demonstration of what we have to keep on doing and the chances of moving the West Midlands economy on to make it more competitive are quite realistic."
Sir Albert said people in Europe wanted to see how the region had done it, with schemes like the A38 Technology Corridor an attraction to inward investors.
"People in Europe want to see how we have increased our skills, training and flexibility."
But despite this change, there was still a long way to go with Birmingham lagging behind the EU average GDP per head.
Sir Albert said: "We are not competitive yet. In EU per capita GDP we are not among the most competitive regions in Europe. Birmingham is around 90 per cent of EU average GDP, but there are regions where there is 130, 140 per cent of the EU average GDP.
"Places like Munich and Milan are the tiger economies of their nations. We have got a long way to go in being a competitive region, but the West Midlands can become more of a powerhouse than it has been in recent decades."