Extra cash from the Government will be critical if a city region format is to work, top businessman Ben Reid insisted yesterday.
Simply switching around existing sources of money would not be good enough.
And Mr Reid, the new business member on the city region board, defended the manner in which he was elected to the post.
There has been criticism in business circles that just 23 organisations were eligible to vote, and not all of them did, and over the speed of the election.
But Mr Reid, chief executive of Midcounties Co-op, a £600 million turnover organisation employing 7,000 people with major centres in Walsall and Oxford, said his conscience was clear.
"I was not in control of the process," said Mr Reid.
But with the electorate covering West Midlands Business Council - an umbrella group for a host of business lobby groups - and the CBI, he felt it provided "significant coverage" across the requisite organisations.
He said: "It was as democratic as business ever gets" and added he could absolutely "live with the outcome".
He took the contest 14-3 against Birmingham entrepreneur and lawyer Peter Wall and said he was confident he had a legitimate mandate from the sector.
Critics have suggested that the business nominee on the city region board will have a hard time making an impression amongst mainly council-lors, particularly in terms of having the necessary back-up.
But Mr Reid said he was used to that, having been on both the West Midlands Regional Assembly and the Black Country Consortium.
"I am very good at delivering a brief," he insists.
Mr Reid is promising an on-going dialogue with business to make sure he is on top of their concerns and aspirations.
He said: "I have been doing this sort of thing for a few years. I understand the hot spots."
He added he had gradually been convinced that "to be effective you have to be operating as a region".
He went on: "We need a critical mass if we are to compete in the real world of Europe and beyond. Regional working is in the best interest."
Acting as a city region means "we can make the big decisions".
It would work "as long as the Government provides resources at that level of added value, not robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said.
Not getting that extra money did not mean a city region could not achieve, but big issues such as transport required "real money".
Mr Reid said the jury was out on how successful the experiment would be, but suggested a board and chairman could as easily give leadership as a mayor.
What mattered was the system delivering leadership because otherwise it would be in danger of being condemned as a "talking shop".
He went on: "Business believes in strong leadership. It respects strong leadership."
Mr Reid would not be drawn on a name for the city region and insisted he was happy to go with the consensus.
"Whatever the outcome is, it will be called the Birmingham city region by people from outside," he forecast. "I recognise this is a difficult issue for some, but we have to be grown up about it."
And he cautioned: "We must get past the first point."
Transport and skills are the vital issues, he said.
"If we don't make this area attractive for businesses to relocate and for start-ups to flourish then we will miss the boat."
As to the big flagship projects like New Street Station and expanding Birmingham International Airport, he believes the new structure can make a difference.
"We have to sit down and address them as a region," he pledged.
"New Street is not just about Birmingham - it is about making a statement for the region. The airport is not just about a few groups - it is all the local authorities delivering a message to the Government. That is what makes it powerful."