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Black Country Strategic Economic Plan


The Black Country LEP submitted the Strategic Economic Plan to government on 31 March 2014.


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The Plan makes the case for a Black Country Growth Deal to secure additional funding and decision making freedom to accelerate growth in high value manufacturing and, specifically, the aerospace, automotive and building technology sectors.

The Growth Deal programme for 2015-16 proposes the delivery of:

• 5,000 new jobs
• 200 new private homes
• 1,900 additional businesses helped to grow
• 1,500 additional learners supported to develop skills needed by businesses

To achieve this in 2015-16, the Black Country has bid for £56m from the Local Growth Fund and an additional £5.7m of its pre-allocated Transport project funding.

These combined investments will lever in an additional £41m from other public sector organisations and £102m from private sector investors, creating over £200m investment for the Black Country.

Stewart Towe, Chair of the Black Country LEP, said, "The Black Country is uniquely placed to create new jobs in high value manufacturing; we have a strong manufacturing base, supply chain networks, businesses that export globally and a location at the heart of the UK transport network. We believe our Growth Deal gives us the flexibility to address the barriers limiting business growth, including under-investment in skills, accelerating businesses innovation, creating additional high quality employment sites, improving the housing mix and tackling traffic congestion. We are confident that our growth plan will ensure that we increase our competitive capability for many more products to be made in the Black Country and sold around the world.”


Summary of Black Country Local Growth Deal projects


Developing a Supply Chain fit to supply businesses:

1. Access to Finance, strengthens the capacity of Black Country businesses to take advantage of new market opportunities. Providing Access to Finance via the Regional Growth Fund to grow Priority Sectors via capital investment in plant, machinery and property. A £15m fund will be available over three years, leveraging in over £40m of private sector investment and generating 1,500 jobs.

2. Wolverhampton Science Park new Science, Technology and Prototype Centre, enhances the capacity of Black Country businesses to innovate and exploit new opportunities. A £10m centre at Wolverhampton Science Park to provide 2,839 sq metres of high quality managed office space and laboratory / testing space to facilitate prototype and R&D activity.

3. People’s Power Station, a £3m project with funding from the Technology Strategy Board to make the Black Country a national leader in the development and deployment of smart grid technologies. Enables independent supply in a rapidly developing global market.


Additional capacity providing Skills for the Supply Chain:

1. Advanced Science, Engineering and Technology Skills Centre, Coombs Wood Business Park, Halesowen - £3m investment in a 1,300 sq metres centre, providing 250 higher level apprenticeships in IT, laboratory technicians, electrical engineering and business / accounts to meet the needs of employers. The new centre will work a range of leading companies including Exova, Eurofins Scientific and Sterling Power Group, who will provide the practical training facilities.

2. Dudley Advance Centre for Advanced Building Technologies & Construction Centre - comprising approximately 4,427 sq metres of new teaching and workshop facilities to complete the £48m investment in Dudley Advance. Leading in Building Information Modelling, the centre will upskill over 3,250 people in the first five years and ensure the sector is ready for the opportunities from HS2. There is strong business backing from companies including Carillion, Stepnell, Skanska and Interserve.

3. New Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Centre and Construction Centre BMET Stourbridge Campus - Additional capacity to deliver advanced manufacturing apprenticeships and training for the existing workforce. £15m to build and establish a world class training and education facility. It focuses on graduate retention and the unemployed and has been developed in association with JLR and its supply chain. With a "just in time” training model, facilities will include Computer Integrated Manufacturing, CNC Machining, welding and toolmaking.

4. Investment in high tech, high value manufacturing capital equipment to meet current gaps in the facilities available and the skills needs identified by businesses. Equipment includes creation of a ‘Fab Lab’ in West Bromwich to turn ideas into new products and prototypes. Two training providers in Walsall, Incomm and PTP, will provide CNC machines and the training required by businesses.


Sites for Growth:

1. Goscote Lane Corridor regeneration area - investing £28m in a transformational programme to bring forward a residential development of 750 homes on three related vacant brownfield sites, totalling 21 hectares, within the Goscote Lane Corridor regeneration area in Blakenall, Walsall.

2. Bilston Urban Village site - working with the HCA and Wolverhampton City Council, who have committed investment to provide further infrastructure and services and remediation to facilitate the release of further viable residential and employment development sites including 580 homes.

3. Bentley Lane, Walsall - creating 11 hectares of high quality employment land, in a key industrial development location to undertake site remediation works addressing on and off site road improvements. The site has known developer interest from a locally based national operation planning significant business expansion. The net development area is around 400,000 sq ft and will create 800 jobs.

4. Woods Lane, Cradley Heath - £6m LGF investment to enable a new road junction to access a development site for 247 homes. This project will leverage in £30m of private sector funding, regenerate 9.43 hectares of poor quality industrial land and improve 0.6km of the River Stour Corridor.


Quality Place:

Cultural capital, a £5m investment supporting a £20m investment to transform Wolverhampton city centre. A major refurbishment and extension of the Civic Halls, coupled with adaptations to the Grand Theatre. The project will address the barriers to the growth and viability for both of these key venues. The Civic Halls is a unique, nationally recognised venue in the cultural sector that enhances the wider Black Country offer.


Transport projects for 2015-16:

M6 Junction 10 - tackling congestion by increasing the size of the structures over the motorway. This is key to the development of the Darlaston Enterprise Zone sites and two regeneration corridors.

Wolverhampton Interchange - the project will provide a fully integrated multi-modal transport hub, deliver new commercial floor space for high value jobs and improve the strategic Gateway to Wolverhampton, the wider Black Country, Birmingham and HS2. A new rail station building will be constructed and the multi-storey car park refurbished and extended.

Managing Short Trips - this programme encompasses a range of improvements including innovative ‘Interconnect’ way-finding and signage supported by physical walking and cycling routes across the Black Country to form an attractive Active Travel Network.

Access to Growth - a fund designed to help deliver smaller schemes (above £500,000 but less than £5,000,000) that improve access to employment sites and strategic centres. Schemes include highway efficiency improvements, sustainable transport, and interchange improvements.