5 June 2018

  |  CBI Press Team

News

Working in partnership will bring the best out of the East and West Midlands

CBI President, Paul Drechsler addressed business leaders at Loughborough College.

Working in partnership will bring the best out of the East and West Midlands

In his final address in the region as CBI President, Paul Drechsler celebrated the successes of companies in the East Midlands, while calling on business, government and local authorities to work better in partnership to bring the Midlands together and turbo-charge economic success.

Speaking at Loughborough College, the CBI President will say “if we use the know-how of local people, the drive of business and the energy of our political leadership, imagine what this would do to our productivity and to regional inequality”.

An audience of business leaders was welcomed to the event by Loughborough College CEO John Doherty and students from the college had the opportunity to cook and serve up the evening meal, while also hosting their own art exhibition.

In his speech, Paul Drechsler, CBI President, will say on the strength of the local economy:

“The East Midlands is a growing economy, £88 billion and counting. Businesses are creating jobs all across the region - and when business grows, jobs flourish.

“Since last year, 24,000 more people are in employment. More than the year before and the year before that.

“Manufacturing makes up a fifth of the economy here. Almost double the national average. You have iron running through your blood. We all do in a way, but the East Midlands more than most. It has a real claim to be the UK manufacturing powerhouse.”

 

On bringing the Midlands together, he will say:

“I want to start by acknowledging a fact. That the Midlands is at the heart of this country, figuratively and geographically.

“But too often it’s like the neglected middle child. Unacknowledged and ignored. Stuck between the South who has it best and the North who has it worst.

“A Midlands middle child. The East Midlands has it worse still. Ignored in favour of the West. When it has an equal claim to be the best.

“Both East and West have as many businesses as each other, about 400,000 each. And they’re all doing great things.

“So the East Midlands is not the poor relation of the West, but it is its ‘relation’.

“And I want to focus on that word because the Midlands is a family. And families work best when they pull together. But right now, the Midlands family has become divided – or at least a little dysfunctional.

“There’s an invisible wall between the members of the Midlands family. And in the words of one former President: We must tear down this wall. And replace it with dialogue, collaboration and action.

“That starts with combined leadership across the region. That’s why it’s great to have Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

“They bring government and businesses together to drive growth. If a road needs upgrading, the LEP can make it happen. If a new railway station will bring more jobs to the area, the LEP can secure the funds. If local people need more training, the LEP can organise it.

“It’s a good way of putting the community in control of the economy.

“But however effective LEPs might be, they’re not the complete answer – not by a long way.

“Because while the LEPs were being formed. There was a wave of directly elected mayors. And while the West Midlands caught the wave, the East Midlands didn’t.

“So areas like the West Midlands now have a bit of a head start on funding and manpower.

“Now there are currently 4 LEPS in the East Midlands, but they don’t have the same power as a metro mayor.

“So there is more for government to do too to join up the regions. By having an industrial strategy that connects people and places.

“It’s simple economics. If people can’t get to a region they will be forced to compete with it.

“So it’s about making it easier for people in the regions to work together.

“When it comes to business, what’s outside might look exciting, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts.”