The Chair welcomed Sarah Middleton, Chief
Executive of the Black Country Consortium to the meeting.
Mrs Middleton outlined the history of the
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the fact that they had
been created in 2011 and had undergone gradual change over the last
6 years to place more focus on developing economic priorities in
order for the Black Country to enhance its influence on decision
makers in the Cabinet.
In August 2017 a Black Country LEP had been
set up with the ambition to understand the threats and
opportunities of Brexit from a Black Country business perspective.
The Group was currently in listening mode and sought to garner
concerns form local businesses in order to pass them back to
In Wolverhampton there was a high density of
manufacturing businesses and there were concerns from those in the
supply chain who were trying to understand the rules of the game
before the Brexit trigger.
The report summarised the areas where
businesses were seeking further clarification in areas such as
tariffs and tariff arrangements.
The Black Country produced a lot of component
parts for machines and supply chains for automotive and aerospace
technologies could go around the world so there was a need to
understand the implications for trade.
It was though that the area really needed to
be producing more originating equipment for manufacturers. The
problems were further down the supply chain and it would be better
to have design and control over the products being produced. There
was a need to understand how we could have a tier one operating
system in the City of Wolverhampton or the Black Country as this
would certainly help with resilience.
There were also differences in pressures on
automotive and aerospace industries and component part value could
be very different for each. It was emphasised that it was important
to understand the rules of trade and the tariffs along with skills
and the movement of labour in order for the Black Country to
support the ongoing development of its businesses.
LEPs in general were currently undergoing a
review with a series of questions now having to be answered by LEPs
regarding geographical coverage and working with the West Midlands
The Board queried recent media discussions
which appeared to suggest that organisations were holding back from
key investment decisions pending Brexit, clarification was sought
as to what the evidence was showing regarding this.
It was stated that this was often due to the
ownership of the company. There were a high percentage of foreign
owned businesses in the area and decisions were often being made in
the European boardrooms regarding investment and there did appear
to be a slowdown in decisions where this was the case which was
leading to some anxiety. This was however only a slowing down
rather that a full stop and as the country got closer to March 19
this pattern of decision making could change again with pragmatism
being the best way forward and each ...
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