Supporting the Business Commission West Midlands

Eleanor Deeley, joint managing director of the Deeley Group, is a commissioner for the Business Commission West Midlands.

She has been supporting with engagement in the region’s business community and the creation of the final ‘Roadmap for Business Growth’ report.

Eleanor reflects on her role in the commission and the next steps for business growth in the Midlands in this blog.

It’s vital that businesses are able to have an input into policy-making and involving businesses in the decision-making process is the only way we are going to be able to create the conditions for growth.

That’s why I was pleased to take this opportunity when approached to be a commissioner of the Business Commission West Midlands, as that core value of giving businesses a voice is at the commission’s heart.

It’s important that people hear and understand the issues in SME businesses, and that is what we hope this report will do. If you don’t stand up and tell people what’s happening, you can’t expect things to change.

The voice of the commission will help to drive change. The key challenge now is to make sure that the report is promoted to government, other political parties and that businesses in the region are aware of its findings.

This is even more important in an election year as it gives the opposition an opportunity to propose solutions to the challenges we have highlighted.

We need businesses to grow and in order to grow there needs to be centralisation of funding and a pro-business environment.

We had four sessions together and during those sessions we discussed the hot topics and made decisions in the areas in which the report should focus – what was most pertinent, what was most impactful and what needed the most urgent change.

It was interesting to be part of a commission which wasn’t focused on one sector and encouraged cross-sector collaboration and information sharing.

There were key themes that were affecting us all, regardless of sector, and those themes became the foundations for the report, including challenges around recruitment, training and skills.

A lack of co-ordination across government funding streams was also highlighted, with a need for clearer signposting to the pots of money available and how to access them.

There was a fantastic research team to track down stats and evidence to support the claims of the challenges that we were facing. Our role was to determine the key issues and ensure that there was a representative spread of Midlands companies who contributed to the report.

We went away and made introductions to our contacts and with the spread of sectors we were able to tap into all corners of the regional economy. My expertise came in terms of built environment, property and construction, with a focus on property management companies, such as Calthorpe Estates, and builders of commercial property, including Stoford and Trebor.

The involvement of three different Chambers of Commerce, covering the entire West Midlands, also contributed to ensuring this was a fair account of businesses in the whole region – it wasn’t Birmingham centric, we had strong representations from Coventry and the Black Country.

Following the research project, we sat down again as commissioners to refine the report and provide feedback on whether we thought the emphasis was correct.

For example, there had been a section in there regarding residential property under built environment, but we concluded that the correct focus for that section would be commercial property.

The key golden threads in the report were:

  1. The public funded business ecosystem is too fragmented, complex and ambiguous for businesses to effectively navigate
  2. Businesses need to see a sense of urgency and ambition
  3. We need to create conditions for businesses to upscale and grow at every stage of their journeys

To find out more about the Business Commission for West Midlands and to read ‘A Roadmap For Business Growth’ visit