On Friday 30 September 2016, the Black Country LEP was awarded a ‘Highly Commended’ award at the 2016 Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Regional Local Enterprise Partnerships Small Business Friendly Awards. The Highly Commended Award under the Local Enterprise Partnership Recognition Award category acknowledges the great work of LEPs for small businesses across the region.
The FSB invited the LEPs across Staffordshire and the West Midlands region to submit projects which had been designed and implemented to assist small businesses.
The Black Country LEP put forward its High Value Manufacturing (HVM) City Digital Platform launched at real estate show, MIPIM, in March 2016. This interactive platform is designed to showcase investment, supply chain and procurement opportunities and support the advancement of leading design, manufacturing and engineering opportunities in the Black Country.
The programme will add over £1 billion to the economy, bring forward 150 hectares of land and create over 25,000 jobs. It is the first time a platform of this kind has been created and builds on the Black Country’s reputation as a centre for High Value Manufacturing.
Use of the platform will articulate the inward investment opportunities, drive supply chain development and integration, and support major contract delivery through the development of virtual models. It will be the ‘go to’ resource for details on all investment and supply chain opportunities in the Black Country. Providing easy access, comprehensive and accurate information and regional context for both supply and procurement.
The platform is open to all companies in the Black Country, not only showcasing large contracts and suppliers, but hosting contract opportunities that are available to SMEs, aligning them to investment that is important to the growth of the Black Country.
The platform enables users to localise their supply chain; capturing the products manufactured in the Black Country, up and coming opportunities, illustrate the supply chain in place for each product and support business to business collaboration on new product requirements.
Wayne Langford, Director of Investment and Growth said: "This is an ambitious project, with over 1,000 subscribers to date and is projected to increase to 10,000 by 2018.
"High Value Manufacturing City will integrate Black Country businesses at every level into the fabric of the growth and investment that the Black Country is attracting and we look forward to seeing how this project unfolds over the next few years”.
Tom Westley, Black Country LEP lead for the Enterprise Zone said: "The Black Country has the potential to generate massive opportunities in investment, in supply chain development and in procurement. We have decided to embrace the use of technical innovation creating a unique interactive platform which captures our total investment opportunity to ensure that the Black Country squeezes every available drop of value for its businesses, its investors, its people and importantly for the Black Country as a place.”
Karen Woolley, Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "We are aware that almost 99% of businesses in the UK are small businesses, yet our intelligence tells us that only 10.5% of those businesses account for direct Central Government procurement expenditure. Therefore, any measures which help to level the playing field for small businesses are very much welcomed.
"But procurement is, of course, only half of the equation. Once a business has been successful in winning a contract, the next stumbling block is to ensure they are paid on time for the work they have delivered to enable them to continue to stay in business and prosper. 51% of FSB members report having been paid late in the last 12 months – this creates a huge barrier for them, their workforce and their customers. We, therefore, welcome any initiatives our partners can instigate which ensure payment terms afforded to tier one suppliers are passed down the supply chain – writing this is into your main contracts and instigating sanctions for failure to comply is a big help”.
The FSB Awards were instigated to recognise and celebrate the great and often unsung work delivered by the 15 Local Authorities across the region on behalf of FSB members and other small businesses. For more information on the FSB awards visit www.fsb.org.uk/regions
For more information on HVM City, visit http://hvmcity.co.uk/Picture caption (L-R): John Poole, FSB Regional Chairman with Black Country LEP board member, Paul Brown, and Director of Investment and Growth, Wayne Langford, accepting the Award on behalf of the Black Country LEP.