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Westminster Column

First of all I want to congratulate all those involved in Sutton’s successful bid for a Town Centre Business Improvement District. This new venture will begin operating in January and will see local businesses invest more than £1 million in our town centre over the next five years. It is a positive step that demonstrates local businesses’ confidence in the future of Sutton’s retail centre. The money will be spent on improving our town’s competitiveness, strengthening its position in relation to neighbouring locations, promoting inward investment, creating a better environment for doing business and upping customer footfall.

Another boost to the local economy was announced this week in the second round of Regional Growth Fund payouts. 22 projects from the West Midlands were successful in securing £100 million in government support, including the Advanced Engineering Supply Chain Investment Fund, which will provide financial support to small businesses across our region, as will the Birmingham Post’s scheme which is to receive £5 million.

As a result of this financial commitment from the Government, 3,900 jobs will be directly created locally, with 29,800 supported indirectly through related supply chains and local economies. Combined with the first round of successful bids the West Midlands will receive a total of £207 million in government funding.

Supporting economic growth is this Government’s central task. Operating over three years the Regional Growth Fund is providing direct government support as a necessary catalyst for projects with the potential to ramp up business investment. It is particularly important to support areas like the West Midlands, which historically have relied more on public sector jobs, so that they make the transition to sustainable private sector led growth and prosperity.

This week’s announcement is good news for Sutton Coldfield and the West Midlands. Supporting job creation in the regional economy is vital if we are to drive growth in our local communities and I am pleased to see so many businesses submit ambitious and highly competitive bids. The West Midlands has been badly hit by the economic downturn but this money will really help to create and safeguard many jobs in Sutton Coldfield and boost growth generally in the region.

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