Business professionals and organisations have been reacting positively to the government’s Midlands Engine Strategy – a £392m package of investment which will be put towards a wide variety of projects in the East Midlands – with the news being viewed as a welcome boost for the region.
Chris Hobson, director of policy at East Midlands Chamber, said: “We welcome this first proper strategy for what the Midlands Engine – a concept launched almost two years ago – will do. It would seem at first glance that government has been listening to business across the region, and that’s very positive.
“It is vital now, as we are about to embark on negotiations for leaving the EU, that the government’s words are translated into positive actions to drive growth across the Midlands and for our towns, cities and counties to work together to make sure potential global investors know and buy-in to the advantages offered by the Midlands region”.
Ian Borley, East Midlands senior partner and head of enterprise at KPMG, said: “I’m pleased to see the plans and investment that the government has pledged to make in the Midlands, recognising the important part our region has to play in driving national economic success.
“It’s really encouraging to see the spread of investment throughout the region, as it can often feel like the East Midlands gets overlooked, but the announcement of a further £392m in the Midlands includes a number of support projects across the patch, such as a global hub for space technology in Leicester and £12m to improve roads in Loughborough.
“This strategy has the potential to boost our regional and national economies, which will achieve greater prosperity, create more jobs and result in a better quality of life for local people. The statistics don’t lie, the Midlands is the real heartland of automotive and manufacturing, we have a strong services sector, employment is rising, and our cities and towns are growing. Which is why the measures announced both today and in yesterday’s Budget are absolutely crucial to ensure that our region is fit to compete on the global stage”.
The D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership has been awarded £63m which includes funding to regenerate Derby city centre for schemes such as the creation of a new performance venue on the site of the Assembly Rooms, new homes and commercial space.
Martin Rawson, deputy leader of Derby City Council, said: “It’s indeed good news to learn that all four projects for which we submitted bids have been recognised. I now await details from D2N2 on what this means for each project”.
The strategy is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to making the Midlands a “powerful engine” for economic growth. The region already punches above its weight, with an economy worth £217.7bn – 13% of the UK’s annual output.
Sir John Peace, Chair of the Midlands Engine, said: “The government sets out in the Midlands Engine Strategy what more it believes we are capable of achieving when we organise as a region and how they will support us. We will consult widely amongst our partners, particularly among young people who will live in the future we work to create.
“We will publish an ambitious vision of the Midlands of the future. A vision of a Midlands that thinks big, acts big, and aims higher, through a realistic plan to make it happen”.
Meanwhile, Matthew Smith, lead director at the Nottingham office of property advisers JLL, believes the strategy can only add strength to the East Midlands pitch for inward investment if it talks as a combined regional voice.
He said: “The key going forward will be for the Midlands Engine Strategy to build on the good work done by places such as Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and Loughborough to ensure an integrated approach with the Combined Authorities.
“We know from experience when it comes to Foreign Direct Investment, investors don’t see municipal boundaries they look at regions, however cities such as Birmingham are more widely recognised. The Midlands Engine gives Nottingham a greater voice and more opportunity to identify our strengths to investors and benefit from a major source of wealth creation”.