HS2 construction driving economic growth in West Midlands

Businesses across the West Midlands have received a significant boost thanks to the construction of HS2 in the region, new figures show.

Businesses across the West Midlands have received a significant boost thanks to the construction of HS2 in the region, new figures show.

HS2 Ltd has revealed that over the last six years, 422 West Midlands companies have received a share of over £1.7bn in contract awards as part of the HS2 construction programme, helping them not only “bounce back” from the covid 19 pandemic, but, in many cases, grow significantly.

In total, 78% of the contract awards were made to small and medium sized businesses in the region, making “Britain’s flagship infrastructure project” a vital component in the survival and growth of many businesses.  

In 2022 alone, the value of HS2 contracts awarded to local firms was £816m - almost twice the value of economic uplift delivered in the West Midlands by the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, which has been put at £453.7m.

Businesses like Altrad RMD Kwikform, based in Aldridge, have found the work they have received from HS2 Ltd transformative.

Mark Pickard, managing director, explained the firm has a team on site at Curzon Street, helping to build the network of viaducts that will bring high speed trains into Birmingham City centre. 

“HS2 had allowed the firm to bounce back to the levels of revenue, stability and success it experienced before COVID-19 hit,” he said.

“Over the years we’ve worked on major projects all over the world, but to be involved in a project of this scale, so local to us, is really special.

“Like most businesses, we’ve been impacted by the pandemic, and there’s still a great deal of uncertainty in the construction industry generally. 

“We’re now able to invest back into the business, purchase new machinery, recruit more people from the local community and train and develop our staff.”

He added the size and scale of HS2 gives everyone at the firm reason to be “really optimistic”. 

“We can plan ahead now for 5-10 years knowing the work is there for us,” he said.

Mark Thurston CEO at HS2 Ltd said the West Midlands realised the enormity of HS2’s potential for local businesses, as soon as work began on the project.

“Contracts worth millions helped to keep factories in production and thousands of jobs safe as the country fought the pandemic, and right now we’re supporting those feeling the cost-of-living pinch,” he said.

“As today’s report shows, HS2’s transformational journey is already making an impact and the West Midlands is onboard and reaping the benefits.”

More than 8,800 local people working on the project are also feeling the benefit, with many of these developing their careers, and accessing free training to upskill for new opportunities.

These include 729 who were previously out of work and are now in jobs and 399 who have completed or are currently studying for an apprenticeship.

Balfour Beatty VINCI, HS2’s construction partner for the region, has already delivered over 81,000 hours of training to create the 7,000-strong highly skilled workforce it needs to fulfil a wide variety of on-site and office-based roles.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said he had believed in the “transformative impact” the landmark infrastructure project would have on the region from the outset.

“Whether it’s thousands of jobs for local people, improved prospects for our local businesses right the way through the supply chain or indeed enhanced connectivity for decades to come, HS2 is a game changer,” he said.

“We must steer a course through any temporary turbulence - inevitable from time to time given cost and political pressures - which is why I’m glad to see the Government redouble its commitment to a scheme which will deliver for the people of the West Midlands and indeed for the UK as a whole.”

View a comprehensive summary of the jobs, skills and supply chain benefits HS2 has already brought to the West Midlands in a new report.

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