Companies across the West Midlands are benefiting from the HS2 infrastructure project, ahead of its arrival in 2026 by accessing funding streams to grow their businesses, according to a statement issued by The Midlands Engine, the coalition of councils, combined authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, universities and businesses across the region working with Government to showcase the Midlands as a strong economy to attract investment.
The West Midlands Combined Authority’s HS2 Growth Strategy was created to ensure the region maximises benefits from the high-speed rail project. A key part of this strategy is access to finance, enabling businesses to invest in the capabilities required to work with HS2, which will contribute to the strategy’s targets – an additional £14bn increase in GVA and 104,000 jobs.
The Business Growth Fund, run by Birmingham City Council, has already helped more than 500 SMEs to grow their businesses, at the end of 2018 the fund had generated £40m of private sector investment, creating 1,600 jobs, and increasing GVA by £100m.
The Rail Supply Growth Fund, which is managed by Finance Birmingham, is another fund allowing West Midlands businesses to grow their capabilities and capacity. The fund has supported Coventry based Penso Group, with a £2m loan to accelerate the innovation and production of its revolutionary composite design of a train door, and Fenix TS, in Stratford Upon Avon, to develop a new rail depot signalling system, creating an additional 20 jobs.
The economic benefits currently being felt across the region are a sign of the influence HS2 has on the regional economy, considering the major work programmes have yet to start. The region’s businesses can now look to the main civils work starting in 2019 and the construction of the two new West Midlands stations, which will commence in 2022, to provide further contract opportunities and job creation.
Lisa Hamilton, WMCA HS2 Project Manager, said: “We are still at the start of our journey when we look at the opportunities that HS2 will create here in the West Midlands, but it is already making a real difference to business and people in the region.
Andrew Davies, Group Finance Director at Penso, said: “The supply chain requirements to build the infrastructure for HS2 are vast, encompassing a range of sectors, providing opportunities for a range of business for more than a decade. To ensure the region’s companies are well placed to take advantage of this once in the lifetime investment in infrastructure a wide range of business and funding support has been put in place, and it is rewarding to see this start to provide real results.”