A new trade partnership has been announced last week, Friday 15th June, between the Midlands and the South West.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) and The South West Business Council (SWBC) with the objective of strengthening business links and creating a new strategic alliance between the two regions.
Focused on developing commercial, employment and investment opportunities within and between the regions, SWBC and GBCC will also work to foster new international partnerships and develop export markets for the two regions.
SWBC – formerly known as Devon & Cornwall Business Council (DCBC) – is the regional economic partnership for the South West – SWBC will work closely with Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses and other business organisations to maximise the opportunities for companies from all sectors to build opportunities with the West Midlands.
For GBCC, the strengths of the South West across aerospace, microelectronics, energy generation, environmental and digital technologies, food and drink, and other sectors represent exciting new opportunities for their 2,900 member organisations.
Russell Jeans, chief operating officer at the GBCC, said: “This new partnership is an exciting development for us. We realised there was a great deal of synergy between the Midlands and the South West, and significant opportunities from forging this ground-breaking partnership.
“Many of the issues that affect us in the Midlands, like skills, infrastructure and innovation, are of equal importance to the South West. Our agreement will strengthen and extend the connection, support and growth of local businesses provided mutually by the GBCC and SWBC. By sharing our experiences, we will have the opportunity to learn from each other and establish an ‘air bridge’ of knowledge between us and along the M5 corridor to the South West.”
Tim Jones, Chair of SWBC said: “I am delighted that today we are able to announce this exciting new partnership with the West Midlands, an important step in expanding our networks through a series of strategic partnerships to be announced over the coming months. The impact of this will enable the SWBC to more effectively support the Great South West economy, assist in improving productivity levels, increase our influence in Whitehall and extend our network to a number of international opportunities. Our role is to seek a single voice for all businesses across the South West.”
Cross Country Trains is one of the key partners backing the new alliance. Andy Cooper, Managing Director of Cross Country Trains said: “We are delighted to support this strategic alliance between the South West and the West Midlands. The route connecting these two important regions is a key element of our business and a crucial connection for our customers, and one where we are adding extra services later this year to help it grow. This exciting economic axis represents all the major cities across the west of Britain, along with the significant business clusters, tourism destinations, ports, airports and road networks that will support a growing economy for these regions. Cross Country is a part of that future and we’re proud to be working with the South West Business Council and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to deliver it”.
BT is also backing the new partnership. Paul Coles, South West Regional Partnerships Director at BT said: “As a national and international technology business, BT is constantly looking to build new partnerships and connect our customers to new markets and new opportunities. For this reason, we very much welcome the move by the South West Business Council and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to connect the South West with the West Midlands, for the benefit of both regions and the businesses operating within and between them – and exporting to the rest of the world. Technology and communication shrinks geographies and brings people together, and at BT we’re excited to be joining this new alliance for the collective benefit of all.”
Dr Robin Daniels, chief executive of the SWBC, said: “Our mission, to create new opportunities for organisations of all sizes and from all sectors across the region and, as a region, to take our products and services to global markets, has been given a huge boost today. Through this new strategic alliance with the GBCC we have the opportunity to combine the considerable strengths of the Great South West with those of the Midlands Engine, for the benefit of businesses and citizens across a combined GDP of over £200 billion”.