Business council to aid West Midlands' recovery

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has set up a new advisory group of some of the most senior business leaders from across the West Midlands to help aid the region’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

DUDLEY COPYRIGHT EXPRESS & STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 12/11/2021 - Andy Street helps launch the Black Country Industrial Decarbonisation programme at Servosteel in Dudley. In Picture: Andy Street.
DUDLEY COPYRIGHT EXPRESS & STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 12/11/2021 - Andy Street helps launch the Black Country Industrial Decarbonisation programme at Servosteel in Dudley. In Picture: Andy Street.

The Regional Business Council is chaired by Severn Trent chief executive Liv Garfield.

Other members include NEC Group chief executive Paul Thandi and Birmingham Airport chief Nick Barton.

Senior representatives from Jaguar Land Rover, Lloyds, Cadent, Eon, Aston Villa, National Express, PWC, the Rigby Group, Kier and Deloitte are also part of the newly-formed council.

The group, whose aim is to champion regional businesses and help kickstart the West Midlands’ economy, will help support investment and innovation in the region, as well as encouraging businesses to improve social mobility to maximise opportunities across all parts of the region.

In the first public comments since its formation, the RBC has called on businesses to help the region build back better. The group believes workers returning to the office will have a positive effect, especially for many young people, whose mental health and career progression has taken a hit during the last two years.

Chairman Liv Garfield said: “As we emerge from this pandemic, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape and improve society. Regional businesses can play a key role in helping to achieve this ambition, by tapping into the talent we have on our doorstep. Job vacancies in our region are 59 per cent up on pre-pandemic levels and we must use every lever to help young people seize these opportunities.

“We believe returning to the office is a step in the right direction, now restrictions are being lifted. It’ll give people in the workplace – especially young people in the early phase of their career, that in-person mentorship, those all-important learning moments, and face-to-face interactions that will help them to flourish.”

The group convened for the first time in November and again on January 18 and will get together quarterly to discuss the regional economy and how the West Midlands can bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic. The group will work directly with Mr Street, regional leaders, and the Government, to help shape the future of the region.

“Our region has some of the best and brightest business leaders of anywhere in the world, and they will be critical in ensuring the West Midlands bounces back quickly and effectively from the pandemic.

“That’s why I have set up this new Regional Business Council, to give our senior business leaders the forum they need to discuss the ongoing economic picture in the West Midlands and advise the Mayor and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) on what further steps we could take to ensure a fair and inclusive economic recovery from the pandemic that has job creation at its heart.

“The RBC’s first intervention is also a critical one, as we know how important office working is both for our regional economy and people’s livelihoods. Here at the WMCA we have begun encouraging our staff back into the office, and I hope other firms will follow the RBC’s call and start doing the same," said Mr Street.

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