The West Midlands CA was in Mipim promoting 24 investment opportunities totalling £10bn, ranging from £2bn for the new HS2 interchange and ‘UK Central Hub’ in Solihull to £50m for Chief executive Deborah Cadman told LGC she and mayor Andy Street (Con) had undertaken promising meetings with investors that would likely lead to deals.
She said: “We are promoting the WMCA as the organisation that provides a facilitation service. Whilst we don’t actually deliver housing, that’s local government, we can help with things like land regeneration. We can unlock sites.”
The opportunities being promoted by the West Midlands included projects under way, those in the pipeline and longer term ‘ones to watch’ that the CA and councils are seeking to develop in partnership with a developer or investor.
Ms Cadman said a lot of investors were “really excited by” the off-the-shelf opportunities while others “see the opportunity offered by being involved right from the beginning”.
“It depends on the risk drivers. A lot of investors are prepared to take the risk because they see West Midlands has a really exciting programme.”
I’m constantly thinking about value for money… I have been relentless about making this event pay
The West Midlands’ pitch to investors is of a young entrepreneurial region with a growing population and economy, for which, as transport authority, it is improving connectivity.
Ms Cadman said: “Part of the offer is we will work with investors to make it easy for them. Having the mayor giving that sense of confidence has been really important.”
West Midlands CA was at Mipim as part of the larger Midlands delegation which included 14 councils from the east and west of the region, as well as almost 80 private sector partners which provided most of the funding.
Ms Cadman insisted what cost there was to the public purse was justified.
“As an ex-chief of a local authority and a chief exec of a public sector organisation I’m constantly thinking about value for money… I have been relentless about making this event pay,” she said.
“I think we have a number of deals as a result of being at Mipim… whether you like it or nor big global investors come to Mipim to see what opportunities there are for them to spend their money.”
Mipim also offers a chance to consider how lifestyle and employment trends will impact the developments needed in future and hear about how other parts of the world are responding to them.
Ms Cadman expressed interest in concepts such as co-living and the shared future, where people share products such as cars rather than own them outright, and Hong Kong’s planned autonomous helicopters to travel between skyscraper rooftops.
While that is unlikely to be a mode of travel on offer in the West Midlands any time soon, Ms Cadman predicted autonomous vehicles would be on its streets within 2-3 years. The region needed to be “ahead of the game” and would have to roll out 5G to process the levels of data required to do this, she said.
Chief exec at Mipim: 'I have been relentless about making it pay'