The Black Country will be transformed into a booming high-wage economy under plans being considered by the Government, regional leaders were told yesterday.
A 30-year strategy to regenerate Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Sand-well will bring 70,000 new households to the boroughs according to Sarah Middleton, who helped draw up the Black Country Study.
Ms Middleton told the West Midlands Regional Assembly that income levels across the Black Country were lagging.
There were also skills shortages and a lack of knowledge economy jobs.
She envisaged attracting 50,000 more higher wage earners by 2036.
Ms Middleton said: "We recognise the opportunities, but we are in for the long haul here.
"We want income levels to be comparable to the rest of the UK as part of the urban renaissance strategy."
Only 14 per cent of economically active people in the Black Country have higher-paid jobs at the moment. The comparable figure for the UK is 22 per cent.
Ms Middleton said the boroughs would have to change from traditional factories to high-added value manufacturing. "We are not producing enough sustainable new businesses at the moment," she added.
The Black Country Study, which is being considered by the Government, also seeks to identify more quality employment land with a view to attracting inward investment.
Ms Middleton said: "Quality of the environment is absolutely critical. We need to deliver a quality environment particularly for businesses. The big opportunity is to identify former industrial land not fit for 21st Century industry that can be transformed into housing."
WMRA business sector representative Brian Summers questioned the lack of transportation planning in the Black Country Study. The study lacked heavy rail investment or plans for better roads access to the western part of the Black Country.