Can collaborative economics see Birmingham return to its glory days?

ImpactHubBirmingham (3)
Co-working and incubator space at Impact Hub Birmingham

Working together for the common good

Birmingham and its city region does not yet have that vision, but it does have plenty of best practice around a more collaborative local economics, and ideas for what’s needed for change to come about.

Sandwell Council and its local NHS trust are embedding the proposed new Midlands Metropolitan hospital within its local economy, through the creation of localised supply chains before building has even started.

In the city’s new social enterprise quarter in Digbeth, a former industrial building has been turned into a co-working and incubator space for civic enterprise. Early participants in its Civic Foundry initiative were Black Country Make, a group of young adults building a digital factory and civic enterprise zone on their Wolverhampton estate, with help from a range of public and private providers.

Housing provider Ashrammoseley was one of the earliest to put economic activity at the heart of its housing offer and now has programmes to build skills, enterprise and social capital among its residents and across the city. It is helping the council develop the skills and employment opportunities of the eastern corridor development running from Birmingham city centre to its airport.

Its chief executive Jas Bains wants more to be done to join the dots between the social economy and the city’s economic strategy.

‘For me it’s a cultural issue. The social economy doesn’t have a place on the board of the Lep and the city council doesn’t always get it. I would like to see the sector collaborate around research and development and have access to a funding stream that helped find solutions to deep-seated problems.’

Other commentators have in this edition of New Start dedicated to Birmingham and its regions, shared examples of how public services can be re-framed and reformed and the need for more localised control.

Just as ‘community conversations’ across the city are building a more collaborative approach to improving neighbourhoods, so conversations between those playing a role in the economic fortunes of places should also be happening, to build a shared understanding of what good local economic development looks like and how – through collaboration – the region can get there.

  • Read the rest of our articles from New Start in Birmingham and the west Midlands here.

Clare Goff is Editor at New Start magazine

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