Express & Star

Businesses can benefit from £15m WMCA funding

A senior banker is urging West Midlands businesses to consider diversifying their businesses and seek new avenues to growth.

Dave Atkinson

Dave Atkinson, regional director for the West Midlands at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, issued the call following the announcement of a £15 million funding boost for the region.

In the Spring Budget it was revealed that the West Midlands Combined Authority will get the funding for culture, heritage and inward investment projects

There will be £10m to support culture and heritage projects.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has predicted that the capital will help provide work for nearly 100,000 people and in the WMCA has doubled its culture budget to £20m.

Mr Atkinson said that he spotlight is shining brightly on the significant economic and social value that the vibrant arts, cultural and heritage scene brings to the region.

"The West Midlands is rightly famed for its manufacturing heritage, but we also have one of the richest cultural centres in the country. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget funding represents another positive step in driving creativity and innovation in this space and suggests that more businesses could look to forge new and creative paths to help them achieve growth and expansion.

"And while taking the leap onto a new path to growth can be daunting, at Lloyds Bank, we’ve been actively supporting local businesses which have moved into new and artistic channels for some time.

"Take West Midlands manufacturer Birchills Automotive for example. The family-owned automotive manufacturer has been trading in Walsall for over 130 years, fabricating exhaust systems for the car and motorcycle industry when last year, it spotted an opportunity to repurpose metal from its manufacturing process to make bespoke sculptures and decorative items for gardens and homes.

Drawing on its traditional manufacturing expertise, the business’ sustainable project has created a new and successful route to growth, making and selling handcrafted designs from recycled stainless steel which otherwise would have gone to waste. With our funding, the venture is already creating opportunities on the international stage for Birchills, as well as here at home."

He added that the funding had also come at a time when the region’s businesses are keenly looking for opportunities to diversify.

"February data from Lloyds Bank’s monthly Business Barometer found that 38 per cent of regional businesses are looking to evolve their offering. It seems like an increasingly promising time to explore the potential benefits of our growing regional arts ecosystem," said Mr Atkinson.

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