This column is sponsored by Advantage West Midlands
Today’s Advantage West Midlands Annual Conference at the ICC in Birmingham will see the largest single gathering of regional business leaders, business support agencies, trade unions, civic leaders and public sector organisations under one roof.
As this is my first conference as Chief Executive, I am delighted to see such an unprecedented number of delegates. Hardly surprising when you consider the theme for this year’s event is ‘Meeting the Challenge’. Not just the structural challenges which we face in our region of enterprise, skills, innovation, transport and economic inclusion – but also the far more pressing challenge we are all currently facing, the economic crisis.
The message we are sharing with delegates is that this is not the time to wait patiently for the storm to pass.
As the economic initiatives being announced show, we want to make it absolutely clear that we are determined to see this region resolutely meeting the challenges ahead – by sharing best practice, aligning our collective resources and working across the length and breadth of the region, as partners.
As Regional Minister Ian Austin MP has said, these are extraordinary times, and Government focus, from No?10 down, has to be on doing all we can to safeguard the stability of our economy.
Our focus needs to be ensuring that we apply the knowledge of previous economic shocks and use that knowledge to ensure our region not just survives, but thrives.
Advantage West Midlands has a proven track record of handling economic shocks to the region.
Our creation of the MG Rover Taskforce after the Longbridge plant closure is universally recognised as a major success. We have also delivered effective responses during the foot and mouth crisis of 2001 and floods of 2007.
We are now building on the lessons and experience learnt from those crises to move the region forward.
Today will play a large part in harnessing the region’s powerbase to ensure we strike the right balance between responding to the challenges thrown up by the current economic crisis and maintaining our focus on the five challenges in the West Midlands Economic Strategy.
There may be difficult days ahead but we will work our way through them together, as we always do – as Team West Midlands.