Businesses in the West Midlands were urged by Jajid Javid to “get engaged” in order to make the most of the opportunities offered by the government’s devolution programme and the Midlands Engine. The secretary of state for business, innovation and skills was speaking to business leaders as guest of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) hosted by Mondelez International at their Cadbury headquarters.
He told representatives of GBCC patrons, among the largest companies in the region, that businesses had a big role to play to make the Midlands Engine a success.
In answer to a question from Birmingham Chamber president Greg Lowson, the MP for Bromsgrove said: “Businesses here have a huge role to play. To influence the agenda on issues like skills and business rates they need to get engaged so that they can work with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
“It has got to be well organised and it’s here the Chambers of Commerce and the LEPs can really make a difference. Get in touch with my department and others and it really will make a difference.”
Mr Javid earlier said that although progress had been made since 2010, “there is a lot left to do”. He added: “We now have the productivity challenge. In terms of production, we are 25 per cent on average behind the G7 and if we matched the US, GDP would be £25,000 per household.”
Mr Javid praised businesses like Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Mondelez International and JLR for their contributions to the West Midlands productivity but he said a number of infrastructure projects, including HS2, were “going to make a dramatic input in this region”.
He added: “The government wants to engage locally so that we can understand the problem areas.”
He added that he was “effectively the Midlands Engine Minister” and it was important that the region had a place at the Cabinet table.
Picture: Sajid Javid (second left) is pictured with (left to right) Oliver Cofler (director, Northern Europe, Mondelez), Greg Lowson (President, Birmingham Chamber) and Paul Faulkner (chief executive Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.