In the first of our special series, West Midlands decision-makers outline their wish list for incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Birmingham's place in the economy is vital to the UK, and if the second city is to prosper during your tenure as Prime Minister, you have to pay special attention to supporting the needs of its business community.
There are many issues Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry would like you to focus on, but four we feel our members consider to be of extreme importance.
* Interest rates - clearly, inflation remains a concern despite headline figures from the CPI and RPI declining in May to 2.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.
It is right that the MPC continues to closely monitor the situation for signs of increasing inflationary pressures but we hope it resists the temptation to raise rates at least for the time being.
Birmingham businesses are experiencing some difficulties as a result of the four rate increases implemented since last August and the damage may be reflected in the 1.3 per cent fall in business investment during the first quarter of 2007.
* Regulation: It will come as no surprise to you that reducing the burden of regulation, especially in the case of SMEs, is still high on our priority list.
Since 1998 new employment legislation, both from our own government and the EU, has cost UK business over #15 billion.
We want a sensible approach to business legislation which supports growth rather than hinders further development.
* Transport: All great cities depend upon an efficient transport infrastructure and Birmingham is no different, except that it is also at the hub of the UK's system.
The Government has to come to terms with the fact that Birmingham's road and rail network directly affects the economic performance of the country as a whole.
Our members consistently cite the transport infrastructure of the West Midlands as one of the key barriers to improving economic competitiveness.
It is no secret, that congestion costs the West Midlands #2.2 billion per annum - two per cent of the total output of the region.
We ask that strategic road issues are tackled and that the go-ahead is given to re-build Birmingham New Street Station to handle greater capacity, and that the green light is given for the runway extension at Birmingham International Airport to allow direct flights to and from South Asia and the West Coast of the US.
* Skills: The facts and figures on the skills shortage in the West Midlands have been well documented, so what needs to happen?
There have to be Government-backed skills initiatives with the appropriate funding, and a radical reformation of the careers and advice service across the UK so that it is more responsive to individual and employer needs.
It is also important the careers advice system for the 14 to 19-year-olds is overhauled to prepare young people for the world of work.
Those Mr Brown are your first priorities and we will be happy to furnish you with more when you have successfully tackled them,
Charlotte Ritchie, Head of policy,
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Dear Gordon, Your Government needs to restore a balance between the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers.
It seems that all the responsibilities with employment legislation fall on the employer yet the employee has only rights.
It used to be regarded that a good law was a balanced law, but the balance appears to have gone out of employment legislation. While we don't want a return to the days of no protection for employees, the pendulum has swung too far.
Federation of Small Businesses Birmingham branch chairman
and MD of Qualplast (1991) Ltd, based in Birmingham and Kidderminster
Dear Gordon, I would like to see you deal with the region's transport system.
The West Midlands is the hub of the UK's transport system - improvements would not only benefit our own region but also the rest of the country. In particular, the New Street Station redevelopment should be given the go-ahead without delay.
FSB West Midlands policy development officer
Dear Gordon, You've often spoken about entrepreneurship, however, I am never quite sure that anyone in Government genuinely understands just what it means to run a small business.
This is a singular, but crucial issue that, as Prime Minister, you must understand if we are to ensure entrepreneurialism is not stifled any longer.
Many will see small businesses growing, which is true, but too many are also slowing down or closing altogether because of this fundamental lack of understanding of our different problems and the disproportionate impact that even small issues can have on this vital sector of our region's economy.
FSB West Midlands Policy Unit