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Each area of the Black Country earmarked for 'levelling up zones' to drive growth

Each area of the Black Country has been earmarked to house "levelling up zones" designed to drive investment and regeneration – and create more jobs.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

Leaders have identified six areas overall including in Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall, which are backed by 25-year business rate retention.

The incentive will have an expected total value to the region of at least £500 million, with the zones designed to provide a boost to jobs and regeneration.

The measures were announced in the Budget by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt under the £1.5 billion devolution deal with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, and chair of the WMCA, said: "The West Midlands was the fastest growing region in the UK pre-pandemic and – as we get back on track – our Plan for Growth will drive our regional recovery forward.

"The new Deeper Devolution Deal that we've just negotiated with the Government will enable us to better create the right conditions to draw in the private sector investment that will help power prosperity right across our region.

"Whether it’s unlocking key sites, skilling our workforce or advancing innovation in the green and digital industries of the future, we must use this moment as a springboard to generate jobs and opportunities for the benefit of local people in the months and years ahead."

The zones have been earmarked for along the "Wolverhampton corridor" around the University of Wolverhampton's Springfield Campus, and the "Dudley Metro corridor" including the Sandwell zone which runs from Wednesbury to Birmingham Road in Tipton and the Dudley zone from Dudley to Brierley Hill.

Meanwhile another zone will be created along the "Walsall Growth corridor" – welcomed by Walsall Council leader Councillor Mike Bird – which includes the area between Walsall and Wolverhampton, through Willenhall. Other areas include the East Birmingham North Solihull Corridor and the Coventry and Warwickshire Gigafactory site.

Councillor Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio holder for economy and innovation, and leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: "A strong economy is reliant on creating the right environment for businesses to succeed in and I look forward to seeing how we can best capitalise on the additional tools that deeper devolution gives us to do that.

"Our Plan for Growth has already paved the way for how we can return our economy to an upward trajectory and with greater influence in key areas means we can better focus on growing the clusters that we know are our natural strengths and those that we have already identified as being key to our future prosperity."

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