More than £47 million of Local Growth Fund has been awarded to projects across the region, which will help to create 32,000 jobs, build 10,000 new homes and unlock 500,000 sqm of commercial floor space, the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) revealed at its Annual General Meeting today (Friday 17 June).
The funding formed part of GBSLEP’s £379m Growth Deal announced in 2014. The GBSLEP was one of the few LEPs in the country to spend its total allocation for 2015/16.
So far a total of 33 projects have been awarded funds ranging from £210,000 to South and City College for training facilities for trainee electricians, mechanics and engineers, to £3.15 million to support the £15 million Midland Metro Catenary-Free project, which will see Birmingham become the first city in the UK to use cutting-edge battery technology that will remove the need to have attached overhead power lines to historic buildings for trams.
The Local Growth Fund was established by central government to support projects that boost jobs, skills, housing and commercial floor space. The GBSLEP approves funding for projects and oversees the full programme of activity, with Birmingham City Council acting as accountable body.
Also revealed at the AGM, was the appointment of Chris Loughran as Deputy Chair for Delivery for the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP. The Vice Chairman of Deloitte, a former leader of his firm’s Midlands practice, will play a major role in the allocation of the Local Growth Fund.
Chris Loughran said:
These are exciting times for our region and I am determined we use the funds secured as part of our Growth Deal to make a real difference across our LEP region. We have an opportunity to create a sustainable economic legacy here and I am committed to playing my part in doing so.”
Other schemes supported by the Local Growth Fund include the Hoobrook Link Road infrastructure project in Kidderminster with £3.6 million and the purchase of a BAe Jetstream plane for student training and development, as well as facilities refurbishment of Solihull College’s Aerospace Academy.
And, over the next 12 months, a further £49 million has been allocated to support initiatives that bring forward new housing and commercial space developments, as well as boost skills. This includes £9 million to unlock small pockets of land for the development of housing, across the LEP region. In addition, the LEP has also provided £2.4 million for the Friarsgate Development in Lichfield city centre.
Andy Street, Chair of Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, said:
We are at a pivotal point in the delivery of real economic change across the region. The results of our strategy are now being felt on the ground with Local Growth Fund investments progressing across our geography – from Solihull and East Staffordshire, to Cannock Chase and Birmingham.
Backing these projects shows how the collaboration between the public, private and education sector can drive productivity and increase skills and employment across the region.”
Having Chris on board is a key appointment for us – his ability to drive value and results from the Local Growth Fund will be crucial in demonstrating significant change across the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP.
The spotlight is on us to make the most of the Growth Deal, if we don’t, further funding will not be forthcoming in the next round of the Local Growth Fund allocations.”
The AGM today also heard how major investments, such as HS2, the extension of the city centre enterprise zone, as well as the move to devolve political powers to the West Midlands Combined Authority, are an important indication of the level of confidence central government has in region.