Rise of small businesses after Coronavirus crisis will rely on support for bigger firms

Andy Street 7

A rise of small and start-up firms in Coventry and Warwickshire on the back of the Coronavirus crisis will only happen if bigger businesses are supported to grow again, according to the Mayor of the West Midlands.

Andy Street was speaking to companies across the region on the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce #PolicyHour call and outlined the West Midlands’ response to the crisis.

He talked through a £3.2 billion ‘ask’ of Government through a Recharge WM document to help tackle the economic fall-out of the virus after it was revealed that the West Midlands would be one of the hardest hit regions due to the make-up of the economy.

The measures, he said, would protect 135,000 jobs and create thousands of training opportunities.

Street said the crisis could lead to a rise in start-up businesses but that their success would rely on the region’s larger firms being able to grow again after the pandemic.

He said: “It will be positive if people do decide to move towards self-employment but, either directly or indirectly, their demand comes from the region’s really big businesses. Companies such as JLR are mission critical for our region.

“The next challenge is to help smaller businesses become medium-sized businesses. It’s great that we are able to generate start-ups but if we can speed up their growth, that helps the economy to grow.”

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “In recent weeks we’ve seen a real spike in the enquiries from people who want to start a business through our business support team.

“That is something many will be thinking about at this time and we’d encourage them to come to us for support. Andy Street is absolutely right that their growth will be supported by helping and protecting the wider economy.”

The wider Recharge WM plan details the need for support for the electrification of the automotive industry, including investment in a giga-factory.

It also outlines the need for ‘green growth’ including making more homes energy efficient as well as wider investment in housing, transport and skills.

Street said: “We are the first region to get this kind of ‘bid’ into Government for what we need to respond to the Coronavirus crisis and we felt it was important for the West Midlands to make its case. The fact that the Prime Minister was here in our region announcing his plans to ‘build, build, build’ shows that Government understands the need to make this a national recovery.”

Louise added: “We were delighted to have Andy with us on our very popular #PolicyHour call. He answered a series of questions on a whole host of topics.

“As a Chamber we are very pleased to back his £3.2 billion Recharge WM plan to help our region recover economically from the pandemic.”