WEST Midlands Mayor Andy Street has set up a new advisory group of some of the most senior business leaders from across the region to help aid its economic recovery from the pandemic.
Chaired by Severn Trent chief executive Liv Garfield, the Regional Business Council (RBC) includes Gymshark founder Ben Francis, NEC Group CEO Paul Thandi, Coventry City Football Club owner Joy Seppala, and Birmingham Airport CEO Nick Barton.
Senior representatives from Jaguar Land Rover, Lloyds, Cadent, Eon, Aston Villa, National Express, PWC, the Rigby Group, Kier and Deloitte are also part of the newly formed council.
The group aims to champion regional businesses and help kickstart the West Midlands’ economy, helping to support investment and innovation in the region, as well as encouraging businesses to improve social mobility to maximise opportunities.
In the first public comments since its formation the group believes workers returning to the office will have a positive effect, especially for many young people, whose mental health and career progression has taken a hit during the last two years.
Speaking on behalf of the group, RBC chair Liv Garfield said: “As we emerge from this pandemic, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape and improve society.
“Regional businesses can play a key role in helping to achieve this ambition, by tapping into the talent we have on our doorstep.
“Job vacancies in our region are 59 per cent up on pre-pandemic levels and we must use every lever to help young people seize these opportunities.
“We believe returning to the office is a step in the right direction, now restrictions are being lifted.
“It’ll give people in the workplace – especially young people in the early phase of their career, that in-person mentorship, those all-important learning moments, and face-to-face interactions that will help them to flourish.”
Andy Street said: “Our region has some of the best and brightest business leaders of anywhere in the world, and they will be critical in ensuring the West Midlands bounces back quickly and effectively from the pandemic.
“That’s why I have set up this new Regional Business Council, to give our senior business leaders the forum they need to discuss the ongoing economic picture in the West Midlands and advise the Mayor and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) on what further steps we could take to ensure a fair and inclusive economic recovery from the pandemic that has job creation at its heart.”