City Zones in on Sectors That Will Bring Sustained Growth and Jobs; Last Month Sir Albert Bore Set out His Policy Statement Outlining His Vision for a Prosperous Birmingham. Alun Thorne Looks at the Research Underpinning the Proposed Establishment of 'Economic Zones' Which It Is Hoped Will Deliver the Growth the City Desperately Needs

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Birmingham's employment problems are well documented. Around 10 per cent of all working-age adults don't have a job and that figure more than doubles for young people under 25.

It's not a new problem and is not one that is likely to improve dramatically any time soon. But for the council's new Labour administration with Sir Albert Bore back at the helm it is the fundamental issue from which everything else flows.

Among a raft of initiatives, Coun Bore announced the creation of economic zones to support inward investment.

These will be a first phase Advanced Manufacturing Hub at the 20-hectare Aston Regional Investment Site, a zone for Environmental Enterprise in Tyseley, a Medical Technology/Life Sciences Campus around the Queen Elizabeth Hospital/Birmingham University site; an ITEC Park at Longbridge, and a Food Hub - a cluster of specialist food businesses with the provision of shared facilities.

To identify the areas which offered the most potential, the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), and Marketing Birmingham employed PA Consulting to find the areas that could deliver the greatest employment opportunities from inward investment.

These included automotive, financial services, business and professional services, food and drink, computer services and software, digital media and life sciences.

Sir Albert said: "The Greater Birmingham area is internationally renowned as the home of cutting edge manufacturing and automotive industries. This reputation had brought investment and jobs to the area and we must continue to provide a supportive environment for these industries to grow and succeed.

"What this research has also shown, however, is that we have strengths and the opportunity - through the growth of sectors such as life sciences, the digital media and food and drink manufacturing - to grow our business community profile, stimulate private sector growth and create jobs.

"Working with Business Birmingham, we have assessed how the sectors we need to target are serviced and accommodated in the city. By looking at what they need to choose Birmingham over other locations, we have developed a strategy that will see seven business clusters developed across the area - linking our economic priorities with our spatial planning, and providing businesses in these sectors with the locations, facilities and services they need." The research identified and categorised the sectors' strength and value to the Birmingham area. From established "global powerhouse" credentials in automotive industries, to the area's potential to be a global authority in high-value areas such as life sciences and pharmaceutical research, it pinpointed how the proposition for investors in each of these vital industries should be laid out. …