The future of Wolverhampton print is largely dependent upon the plans to make the city one of the centres of the proposed Midlands economic “powerhouse”.
There is now a move to challenge the development of the “northern powerhouse” and the continued growth and magnetism of London and the south-east.
Seven local authorities in the West Midlands are coming together to combine their activities on driving the economy and co-ordinating major investment.
The local authorities of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton are combining their resources for working with business and developing the regional economy.
The details of the scheme should be ratified by parliament by next April and we are investigating the impact it will have on Wolverhampton printing businesses.
A major setback to the potential for Wolverhampton print businesses has been the closure of the Goodyear tyre plant with the loss of around 330 jobs. This will have a big impact on the local supply chain.
At the same time Wolverhampton is becoming a major centre of manufacturing investment. The Black Country LEP combines Wolverhampton with Dudley and is looking to invest heavily in infrastructure and training. The three key sectors where they will focus on will be the automotive, aerospace and construction industries and consequently the Wolverhampton print market.
The new Jaguar Land Rover engine manufacturing plant at i54 has generated £600million of private investment on the back of the £57million public investment. Something like 66,000 jobs in this combined region are directly related to the automotive industry.
Wolverhampton boasts 20% of the UK’s aerospace output. Local companies supply all the leading commercial and military aircraft manufacturers around the globe. Some 26,000 jobs are dependent on the aerospace industry and this is seen as a major area of potential growth.
Direct2Print’s first online print customer was the Wolverhampton-based aircraft tyre manufacturer Goodrich. Their supply of printed training manuals had been delayed and they needed an emergency replacement supply printed and delivered within 6 hours!
The third sector where major growth is anticipated is the construction industry. There are something like 3,700 local companies employing 44,000 people in construction. There are multi-national companies like Carillion and many specialist smaller businesses.
Combined together they are hoping these three sectors drive the local economy. Small businesses in the manufacturing and service sectors will feed off these larger businesses. One of our Wolverhampton print customers – Phenix Digital have based themselves at the very successful Wolverhampton Science Park.
We also worked with a large number of business start up’s funded by the European Development Fund on behalf of Business Link – many are still going strong today including Wolverhampton-based training provider TOPPS. Over almost a decade we have supplied them with all forms of business print, document print, and promotional print.
Communications will play a major part in the overall plan and the public transport improvements in the area will help in this regard.
The tram system linking Wolverhampton, West Bromwich and Birmingham city centre will eventually be extended to include Brierley Hill , Walsall, Birmingham Airport and the Birmingham HS2 terminal.
There will be some interesting times ahead for Wolverhampton print businesses!