Birmingham’s new economic zones are expected to bring £1.5 billion into the city and generate nearly 50,000 jobs by creating the right environment for enterprise, as announced at the launch of the city’s Economic Zones Prospectus.

The event brought together leading business figures across the city to highlight how the zones will support one of the UK’s most ambitious inward investment strategies.

The six zones align the city’s planning and economic priorities, creating the opportunity for new tailored space, facilities and support for sectors identified as having the greatest impact on attracting inward investment.

These include business & professional services; creative & digital media; advanced manufacturing; life sciences; food & drink; and IT, electronics & communications (ITEC).

The zones – devised following research from Birmingham City Council and collaboration with inward investment programme Business Birmingham – will be based at the following sites, which altogether will create £1.8 million sqm of new floor space across the city:

•Advanced Manufacturing Hub at the Aston Regional Investment Site

•Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District

•Life Sciences Campus at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and University of Birmingham in Edgbaston

•The Food Hub at the former IMI site in north Birmingham

•City Centre Enterprise Zone

•Longbridge ITEC Park

The event also unveiled further details of the Advanced Manufacturing Hub – the first zone to be rolled out to investors, which is available for immediate occupation. It mirrors the strength of the region’s manufacturing sector, worth nearly £12 billion* to the local economy.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

“The launch of Birmingham’s Economic Zones Prospectus demonstrates the city’s ambitious vision to become the UK’s enterprise capital. Unparalleled collaboration between partners across the city, including Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, Birmingham City Council, Business Birmingham and the city’s property community, has created a pioneering blueprint for Birmingham’s future economic landscape.

There is an increasing need to make Birmingham’s economic development globally relevant, creating a sustainable economy that will attract international investment, deliver jobs for our residents and enable both existing and new businesses to thrive here.

Our economic zones – led by the city’s new Advanced Manufacturing Hub – form a proposition that international investors cannot ignore, and will become the cornerstone of our economic success for decades to come.”

The proposition

Each zone will create a bespoke environment for their target sectors. This can include simplified planning for developers; gap funding for new developments and existing business space; access to loans, equity finance and business development programmes for new occupiers; training and recruitment packages; and the services of Business Birmingham.

As the first economic zone to be marketed to investors, the Advanced Manufacturing Hub has plots available for immediate development.

Located at the 20 hectare Aston Regional Investment Site, it will support the city’s growing automotive and aerospace supply chains as well as other advanced manufacturers. It will be developed in three phases over a 10-15 year period, with the first phase of 10.5 hectares able to accommodate individual, bespoke buildings up to 11,000 sqm.

A Local Development Order is being prepared to simplify the planning system for developing new accommodation at the Advanced Manufacturing Hub, which has the potential to accommodate up to 3,000 jobs. It is a joint initiative between Birmingham City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, with Savills the appointed agent to the development. In addition, £20 million has been committed to infrastructure improvements and land acquisitions in the area.

Councillor Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Jobs and Skills, said:

“As the first economic zone to be available for occupation, the Advanced Manufacturing Hub demonstrates our aim to support business development, create employment, increase skills and regenerate parts of the city through spatial and economic planning.

Using this model will provide businesses with benefits ranging from bespoke accommodation to cost-effective shared facilities and accessible supply chain networks. It will also help to transform parts of the city that have the available space and workforce to create world-class business clusters, within a growth sector.”

Attracting investment

The economic zones will become an integral part of Birmingham’s offer for new and existing investors – with the Prospectus used to market the city to global companies as well as indigenous businesses.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham – which operates Business Birmingham – said:

“The economic zones will become a crucial factor in Birmingham’s ability to land inward investment. Since launching in April 2011, Business Birmingham has directly supported the creation of 3,000 jobs – and the zones will help us build on this success during the current economic climate.

A structured planning strategy, tailored to companies in our strongest industries, will help Business Birmingham offer a unique package to investors. Leveraging the zones to create a sector-specific, targeted inward investment plan will make the best use of the city’s resources and provides us with the greatest chance of boosting employment across the Birmingham area.”

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