West Midlands is only UK area to see growth in foreign investment projects and employment
The West Midlands is the UK’s only area to have witnessed growth in both the number of foreign investment projects and FDI employment, according to the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) latest figures released today.
A total of 171 new FDI projects were recorded during 2017/18, with the number of associated jobs reaching 9,424 – the highest number of new jobs created in any area outside London.
The West Midlands welcomed a 13% increase in FDI projects and a 43% increase on the number of jobs recorded compared to the previous year, whilst all other UK regions witnessed a decrease on either one or both counts.
Neil Rami, Chief Executive at the West Midlands Growth Company, said:
“Our investment strategy for the region is centered on supporting an inclusive, diversified economy and attracting quality projects that yield the greatest employment opportunities. These latest figures from DIT represent a huge vote of confidence in our approach and how the West Midlands is perceived internationally.
“Foreign companies are investing here as they to look to capitalise on the flourishing network of innovation hubs, R&D facilities and enterprise zones that underpin the West Midlands’ success. The region’s leading advanced manufacturing supply chain includes heavyweights such as JLR, Guhring and Rolls Royce, while the strategic central location of the West Midlands and its world-class talent pool have fostered both the UK’s largest tech & digital and professional services sectors outside the capital.”
Investors in the West Midlands in 2017/18 included New York-owned technical testing company Exova, which invested in the Black Country, and Austrian manufacturer Benteler Automotive, a Coventry and Warwickshire investment. Engineering, construction and project management company Bechtel and US hydraulics manufacturer HydraForce – both US firms – also newly invested or expanded into the region.
Tony Brown, Managing Director at HydraForce, Europe, said:
“Headquartered in the US, HydraForce’s facility in the West Midlands has been the company’s single biggest investment to date. With the organisation creating an additional 216 local jobs and achieving a global turnover of $378m in 2017, we’re undoubtedly reaping the rewards of this investment. Having access to a talent pool skilled in technical manufacturing is of central importance to us. Here in the West Midlands we have essential strong links with local higher education institutions and well-established apprenticeships and undergraduate programmes.”
Paul Gibbs, Bechtel’s Managing Director of UK Infrastructure, said:
“The West Midlands is investing at an unprecedented level in its infrastructure, with major schemes such as HS2 underpinning the region’s growth potential. By locating here, we are ideally positioned to capitalise on these opportunities and pursue further projects across the region’s highways, rail and aviation markets, working with Highways England, Network Rail and key infrastructure organisations. We were already working closely with HS2 Ltd at their Birmingham headquarters, so to have a physical presence nearby made complete sense.”
At a national level, the US, Germany and China led the way as the largest sources of investment into the country. The UK’s environment, infrastructure & transportation sector attracted the most FDI, followed by the food & drink sector.
The West Midlands’ multifaceted investment strategy is designed to maximise new employment creation opportunities and includes the support of UK expansion projects into the region in tandem with FDI. The region’s inward investment strategy is focused on sectors with the highest growth potential including: advanced manufacturing; life sciences; business, professional & financial services; tech & digital; and food & drink. Some of the upcoming trade events showcasing the region’s investment offer include Innotrans in Berlin (September), Money 2020 in the Las Vegas (October) and MIPIM in Cannes (March).
Further information on the West Midlands’ inward investment activity can be found via the West Midlands Growth Company website.