These are exciting times for the West Midlands.
Our region’s economy is growing faster than anywhere outside of London, with record numbers of jobs created and investment secured.
We have worked hard to put foundations in place to grow the industries that will create the jobs of the future.
Recently, the West Midlands was selected to become the UK’s first multi-city 5G test bed.
This is a real game-changer for the region and will be the backbone of our future economy and society.
The unprecedented levels of public investment in transport and infrastructure are being matched by our region’s key business sectors and I was delighted to speak at the launch of Birmingham Airport’s new masterplan this week.
This sets out plans to make a self-financed £500 million investment to expand and enhance facilities over the next 15 years while making much more intense use of the existing single runway.
Birmingham Airport is an integral part of the region’s infrastructure and of the Midlands Engine.
The masterplan reinforces the central role the airport plays as a catalyst for growth and it outlines how the airport will drive further economic benefit to the region.
This is set to increase by 42 per cent by 2033, to a total of £2.1 billion a year, supporting 34,000 jobs.
The improvements to passenger services will help showcase the very best of the region as Coventry becomes UK City of Culture in 2021 and Birmingham hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
As well as delivering for the region, the airport is also helping drive economic prosperity for the rest of the country.
Last month, I joined Ministerial Champion for the Midlands Engine James Brokenshire MP as part of a delegation to India to help develop trade links with the world’s seventh largest economy.
We are starting from a good base – 657,000 passengers have flown with Air India from Birmingham to destinations across India since 2013.
In that time, travel between Birmingham and Delhi has grown by 88 per cent while travel to Amritsar has grown by more than 300 per cent.
Our region has a historic bond with India and I am keen to grow these routes, expand trade and explore new connections with India’s other major hubs.
Back at home, the West Midlands is already at the heart of the UK travel network and this will only be enhanced by the arrival of HS2.
When it opens in 2026, Birmingham Airport will be the only airport served directly by high-speed rail – just 38 minutes from central London, offering a real alternative for airline customers in the South East.
We are on the cusp of a period of great success in the West Midlands and this plan from Birmingham Airport reinforces the dynamism.
Nowhere is that more in evidence than in the area immediately around the airport, with JLR’s centre of manufacturing in Solihull, the ongoing investment in the NEC – now under the ownership of the Blackstone Group – and the prospect of Steven Knight, creator of Peaky Blinders, bringing his own brand of film studios to the area.
For certain, this must be one of the most investable areas in Britain and Europe.
As mayor, it’s now my job to showcase this potential to the region, the country and the world.
Andy Street is the directly elected mayor for the West Midlands