Shrinking journey times and increased capacity when travelling to either the capital or to Leeds and Manchester will help open up new markets, while the presence of HS2 in this region will create further opportunities for businesses based here.
At Lloyds Bank we have been working to support local businesses looking to prepare for the arrival of HS2, and this month saw us host the second of a series of seminars discussing the development.
Of the businesses that attended the seminar, the biggest concern was that their firms – or their supply chains, clients or logistics – would be affected through Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs).
The key to preparing well, we believe, is to look at HS2, wherever possible, as an opportunity to take their business forward. While undoubtedly disruptive, a CPO forcing a business to relocate could, for example, open a new path to diversification, whether through moving into larger premises, moving closer to target markets or into an area that has seen an increase in demand for the business’ services.
Positively, the Midlands Growth Strategy estimates that HS2 could create or safeguard 104,000 jobs for the region by 2026 and, as a result of all of this, the West Midlands is expected to see an economic boost of £4bn a year.
Construction work could start as early as May 2017, with the first trains due to commence service in 2026 and, for the majority of businesses we spoke to at our seminar, the biggest benefit of HS2 will be shrinking journey times between the West Midlands, London and the North.
Vastly improved connections to clients, services and suppliers will open up opportunities for some companies to expand into new markets but, with more people moving into the region due to improved transport links, firms will also be able to tap into a wider talent pool to grow and enhance their workforces.
Meanwhile, businesses looking forward to new opportunities for growth should also ensure they are prepared to take advantage of these without overtrading.
Whether business owners see it as an opportunity or a threat, at Lloyds Bank, we have been advising those that think they will be affected to speak to their trusted advisers now to make sure they are prepared for the changes the new line will bring.
We are committed to supporting local businesses and our relationship managers have a wealth of experience in supporting firms as they plan for the future.
Through this, together we can ensure that businesses are fully prepared and confident as the plans for HS2 continue to unfold, and we can look towards a bright economic future in the West Midlands.
Paul Warringon, relationship director in the Midlands, Lloyds Bank Commercial