A huge consultation exercise has begun to find ways of improving the economic performance of the West Midlands.

Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency, and the West Midlands Regional Assembly are inviting hundreds of groups and organisations to have their say about what needs to be done to create more jobs, support more businesses, and establishing thriving communities.

During the next 18 months, "Help Shape Your Future" will see local authorities, businesses, voluntary organisations, politicians and others across the West Midlands asked to put forward their ideas.

The findings of the consultation exercise will be used to revise the West Midlands Economic Strategy which, from autumn 2007, will be the regional plan of action for improving economic performance up to the year 2020.

In a joint announcement, Nick Paul, chairman of Advantage West Midlands and Coun David Smith, chairman of the West Midlands Regional Assembly, said: "We are kicking off a major consultation exercise which will allow the region to debate the key economic issues we face and agree what action needs to be taken to tackle them.

"These are issues which affect each and every one of us - from skills to transport, from deprived communities to business competitiveness.

"The West Midlands region has £10 billion at its disposal to improve its economic performance. The potential of this resource is huge and the aim of the consultation process is to agree as a region how we target this money more effectively.

"Our economic success depends on the effectiveness of where, as a region, we invest our time and money."