Long before the first rumblings of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, Birmingham and the wider West Midlands, carried the hard earned moniker of ‘Workshop of the World’. ‘Made in Birmingham’ carried a stamp of authenticity and quality the world over. Clearly the regional economy has had to evolve, but manufacturing remains a key driving force for success.
For some time there has been a growing concern that that the Midlands was at risk of becoming a forgotten waystation for Whitehall funds en route to the Northern Powerhouse. In the recent budget the Chancellor gave the firm indication that Northern Ireland has the capability to take power over its corporation tax. Greater Manchester can now keep the growth in business rates generated by the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ to further invest.
The Midlands has a greater economic output than Northern Ireland. It is the only region in the UK to have a positive trade balance with China, and was celebrated by the Chancellor for creating a new job every 15 minutes. It is clearly time that the Midlands coalesce and compete. Historically Birmingham, and the Midlands, have been happy to quietly go about their business without the swagger and self-belief so synonymous with the larger northern cities. At the heart of the Midlands, Birmingham is a city rich in ambition, with a diversity of talent and outlook that’s hard to match. It must be time to stamp ‘Made in Birmingham’ on a brand new Powerhouse surely?
Based in Birmingham, Matt Cockbill is a Partner leading the UK IT & Technology Leadership Practices for Berwick Partners.
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