Colors: Purple Color

Birmingham has won £2.48m funding from the government to promote green forms of transport, it was announced. The funding for Birmingham City Council is part of £20.6m that is being given out nationally for 23 sustainable travel initiatives across England that boost local economies by supporting people’s ambitions - offering cheap, clean and healthy travel options to access jobs and education opportunities.

Responding to the news that the latest Quarterly International Trade Outlook (QITO) shows that the number of UK firms reporting an increase in export orders and confidence rose at the start of 2016, following a drop in growth at the end of 2015. Black Country Chamber President, Adrian Wright, said: “The report’s Trade Confidence Index, measuring the volume of trade documentation issued by accredited Chambers of Commerce, rose by 1.4% in Q1 2016, compared with the previous quarter, to stand at an index of 116.04 in Q1 2016. However, in annual terms there was a decline of 4.4% on Q1 2015.

Records have been set in 2015 for inbound visits with strong growth from Britain’s major inbound markets including the US and Europe and double digit growth from newer markets China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show stellar growth from China with visits up 46 per cent on 2014 to 270,000, and spend up 18% to £586 million, moving China into the UK’s top 10 most valuable inbound markets. 

The European Union ‘is not a perfect institution but no alternatives offer the same advantages on trade and job creation,” Minister for Europe David Lidington told a key Birmingham business event. The Minister put forward the case for continuing EU membership at a special business round table organised by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce at Birmingham City University.

West Midlands businesses still have chance to sign up for the world’s biggest business festival next month. The biennial International Festival for Business 2016 (IFB2016) takes place over three weeks from 13 June to 1 July at Exhibition Centre Liverpool, when tens of thousands of ambitious companies will take up the chance of meeting buyers, investors, suppliers and technology partners.

The first UK branch of The Burger Priest will officially open in Wolverhampton at 11am on Friday – with its entire 25-strong workforce recruited from the city. The Victoria Street burger restaurant, opposite Beatties, teamed up with Jobcentre Plus and the Adult Education Service to source its staff. Around 80 per cent of its workers were previously unemployed - and City of Wolverhampton Council will be providing ongoing future skills support to staff.

The LawWorks Not-For-Profits Programme is expanding to provide free legal advice and support to more small organisations who give invaluable support to communities across England and Wales.  Last year over 140 not-for-profit organisations’ cases were placed with volunteer lawyers through LawWorks.The pro bono charity is keen to make more charities, community groups and social enterprises aware of the free legal help they make available.

Over half of smaller business owners (55 per cent) say their company’s growth is being held back by the amount of time they have to dedicate to business administration, according to new research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).  The findings show that a small business owner spends over 33 hours every month on internal business administration – that represents almost a quarter of an individual’s working hours.

Turkey’s growing automotive sector is the subject of a special event aimed at manufacturers and distributors in the Midlands. The B2B matchmaking event is being organised by Enterprise Europe Network at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce on 7 June, and will see local firms meeting face-to-face with a group of leading Turkish vehicle component suppliers.

"Todays Queen's Speech reinforces the need for the UK to continue investing, both financially and logistically, in order to remain at the cutting edge of new vehicle technology - from propulsion systems to autonomous vehicles." commented Phil Harrold, automotive partner at PwC, about the Queen's speech, which focussed heavily on the digital economy and technology.

City of Wolverhampton Council has officially secured a landmark development site to boost its city regeneration plans. A £13.1 million deal was completed to purchase St George’s Parade on the eastern side of the city centre. It is a key strategic gateway that forms part of the City Centre Area Action Plan (AAP), occupying a highly prominent position next to the ring road, 250 metres from the city’s main shopping centre and railway station.

The head of West Midlands UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is urging businesses from across the region to set Latin America and the Caribbean in their sights as hundreds of export opportunities come to the fore. Christine Hamilton, interim director of UKTI West Midlands, said now was the ideal time for businesses in the healthcare, education, oil and gas, marine, infrastructure, financial services, automotive or mining sectors to grow and expand their reach in countries such as Dominican Republic, Argentina, Mexico and Chile.

A report on housing need in the UK published by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) calls for urgent Government action to deliver the homes needed in the UK. In Homes for all: Ensuring councils can deliver the homes we need, 72% of councils think that the viability test laid out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has hindered their ability to build social and affordable housing.

Plans to make nearly every vehicle in the country zero-emission by 2050 have taken a further step forward with the launch of a £2million government fund to encourage more businesses to switch to hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.  The Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Fleet Support Scheme will allow local authorities, health trusts, police forces, fire brigades and private companies to bid for funding to add hydrogen-powered vehicles to their fleets.