The Post reports that the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), has now agreed to put forward Birmingham city centre as the location of the Enterprise Zone due to its potential to generate considerable private investment and jobs, as well as the potential for substantial business rate growth. 

Where will the boundaries be drawn? One possibility:

 

The bid to make the whole of Birmingham City Centre a large Enterprise Zone offers the greatest potential for wealth generation in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area, partnership leaders said

Will the plan be beneficial to areas of deprivation? 

How will this bid relate to David Bailey’s point about the first sites selected (Manchester airport, the Boots Campus in Nottingham, dockland near the Olympic site and the Liverpool waterfront), which would be the most likely to attract any pending investment regardless of incentives? 

If approved, would it become more difficult for the city’s areas of deprivation to attract new jobs and even lead to the loss of firms who might decide to move in order to benefit from tax breaks, as Professor Bailey conjectures? 

LWM’s co-ordinator points out: 

  • Problem: in the city centre land value and rents are high and deter smaller businesses and start-ups that would benefit from the proposed incentives. 
  • Advantages: if the zone’s boundaries include Digbeth/Aston and similar areas there will be space for manufacturing; the centre is relatively accessible from most parts of city by public transport. 

The Work Foundation’s February report, drawing on the experience of the ‘80s [see Bailey, below] warns that Enterprise Zones, tax breaks and other localised incentives may stimulate rapid investment in the short-term, but this typically lasts no more than three years before the area begins a long-term reversal back into depression. 

We hope that this will not happen in our region.