Inward investment into the West Midlands 2009/10 – a local analysis

In 2009/10 there were 84 inward investment successes in the West Midlands and another four knowledge-based investments. These investments created over 1,500 new jobs and safeguarded another 4,300.

Although these 88 investments represented the lowest number of jobs created or safeguarded since 1992/93, they also represented the 7th highest total number of projects since 1991.

Pie chart shows 38 inward investments in West Midlands metropolitan areas and 49 inward investments in the shire counties over 2009 to 2010Inward investment is usually spread reasonably evenly between the West Midlands metropolitan areas and the shire counties. In 2009/10 the shire counties attracted the majority of inward investment projects (55%). See left.

However, the metropolitan areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton have attracted perhaps just over half of the projects over the years – see below. The number of jobs created and safeguarded also generally follows a similar pattern.

Stacked bar chart shows percentage of inward investments into West Midlands metropolitan areas versus shire counties between 1991 and 2010

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Interactive maps – beyond election results

Media coverage of yesterday’s general elections has included many interactive online maps. Voters have been able to explore the election votes in different ways, seeing who won what where, and how close the contests were.

Here at the Observatory, we use InstantAtlas software to produce this kind of map. We’ve produced a map of yesterday’s election results as an example, but in fact we have many other maps available covering a wide range of topics. For example, Jobseeker’s Allowance claims by ward or the results of the place survey, which asked residents how they felt about their local government.

Looking at these kinds of data geographically can often be illuminating; maps can often reveal patterns that the raw data alone wouldn’t reveal. At the Observatory, the spatial dimension is something we’re always considering – maps aren’t just for election time!

New report sheds more light on West Midlands geography

In the public sector, many of our policies, strategies and services follow administrative boundaries such as regions, local authorities, police force areas, primary care trusts or even wards.

But out there in the real world, people don’t live their lives as neatly as that. Many people live in one place and work, learn or shop in others. Businesses too have customers and suppliers from many different places.

Whilst every person, and every business is different, understanding the patterns in these kinds of links between places is important.

For example, when analysing the local labour market it is no good just looking at the people who live locally if many local workers come from elsewhere.

Understanding “functional geographies” has always been important but the issue’s profile has been raised in recent times as government has sought to devolve more responsibility for economic development to sub-regional and local areas.

Over the next year all upper tier and unitary local authorities will need to produce Local Economic Assessments. Government guidance says that these will need to “identify the economic linkages within the area assessed and between it and the wider economy.”

In preparation for this, the Observatory has just published a report looking at some of the key sub-regional links between places in the West Midlands.

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Observatory map featured in top 10 government data visualisations and applications

An interactive map produced by the Observatory has been featured in The Guardian’s top 10 government data visualisations and applications.

Screenshot: interactive map showing Jobseeker's Allowance claimant rates in the West Midlands

This map shows the proportion of the working age population claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in each local authority in the West Midlands. You can also compare data for each local authority with the West Midlands and UK averages.

The map is based on the latest employment and unemployment data released monthly by the Office for National Statistics. The Observatory analyses this data as part of its work in monitoring the impact of the recession on the West Midlands.

As well as local authority, we also show the data in maps for:

The 10 data visualisations and applications were highlighted by the Guardian Datastore on the same day the government publicly launched the data.gov.uk site. This new site aims to unlock innovation and encourage data-led decisions by opening up public sector data for reuse in innovative applications and websites.

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Making the invisible visible: matching West Midlands ICT SMEs with business opportunities

West Midlands ICT Cluster AWMistThis is a guest post written by Brian Prangle with contributions from Andrew Mackenzie.

West Midlands Regional Development Agency, Advantage West  Midlands (AWM) has unveiled its latest initiative to stimulate and develop the high technology sector.

AWMist (A Web Map-based Information Search Tool) is the first regional interface of its kind where collaboration, business opportunity building, and partnerships can be easily forged between the region’s ICT SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) and those who can support and assist them, such as funding agencies, universities and business support projects.

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Large variation in West Midlanders’ satisfaction with local theatres and concert halls

According to the first ever Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) Place Survey results, the proportion of West Midlands residents satisfied with theatres and concert halls is the most variable indicator across the region, ranging from 76% in Malvern Hills to a low of 18% in North Warwickshire.

However, overall satisfaction with theatres and concert halls in the region (45%) exceeded the national average (43%).

In addition, compared to all other regions, West Midlands residents were the least satisfied with local sport and leisure facilities.

These two results, which carry implications for some of the region’s local cultural service providers, were highlighted as headline findings by colleagues at the West Midlands Regional Observatory as part of their detailed Place Survey 2008 analysis.

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Interactive maps help monitor recession geospatially

We’ve produced a set of interactive maps to monitor the impact of the recession at different geographical levels in the West Midlands:

  • By West Midlands Local Authority
  • By West Midlands Census ward
  • Neighbourhoods in the Rural Regeneration Zone

The maps show Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimant rates (the proportion of the working age population claiming JSA), which gives an indication of unemployment.  The maps help us to see how the recession is affecting different areas.

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