PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
BLACK COUNTRY 2.0
WHY THE REGION NEEDS BLACK COUNTRY 2.0
As we enter the third decade of the 21st Century, the local economy and its businesses are facing significant pressures from a number of factors.
Black Country 2.0 will provide businesses with the analysis and information they need to ensure that our collective regional business needs are being listened to at the highest levels.
THE BLACK COUNTRY ECONOMY AT THE START OF THE 2020s
Before the pandemic, the West Midlands and the Black Country region had a population whose living standards were improving following the 2008 economic crisis.
Whilst there had been slow and steady progress over the previous decades, the region was still tackling long-standing economic inequalities during this period.
GVA per head in 2018/2019 is 65% lower than the national average
Upskilling and training was limited with businesses reluctant to take on apprenticeship responsibilities
The Black Country is underinvested in terms of major infrastructure projects
The region continued to face high levels of unemployment
Action is needed to plug skills gaps, make the case for investment and combat longstanding inequalities
THE BLACK COUNTRY COMPETING IN A GLOBAL MARKET
Since the 2016 Referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, businesses across the region lacked the clarity, direction and detail needed to remain competitive and do business overseas with markets both within and outside of the European Union in a post- Brexit world.
With the new UK and EU Trade & Co-operation Agreement now in place, importers and exporters are now entering the real transition phase and dealing with a legacy of:
Investment and spending decisions deferred by businesses for nearly 6 years
Expensive contingency plans needed to deal with the uncertainty and minimise disruption to supply chains
Consequences of trading in an environment of new restrictions, increased bureaucracy and systems being tried, tested and implemented in real-time
Importers and exporters need to be able to get their goods and services to global markets quickly and profitably
The COVID-19 emergency further exposed the vulnerabilities and weakness within our local economy and had a profound impact on the way businesses operate with entire sectors remaining at risk and the health and wellbeing of our families, friends and employees continuing to be affected.
Confidence in consumer spending, depressed trade growth, business failures and redundancies will continue to impact liquidity and debt
Young people are twice as likely to work in sectors severely affected by lockdown measures
Low earners are seven times more likely to work in sectors that have shut down
The visitor and night-time economy continue to be impacted
Calling on businesses and their employees to receive the support needed to ensure that the region builds back stronger
For more information on the Black Country 2.0 initiative, visit the WEBSITE