University of Birmingham: New research examines the impact of Covid-19 on the West Midlands

What are megatrends? Megatrends are major movements, patterns or trends that are having a transformative impact on business, economy, society, cultures and personal lives. Through a report, a series of provocations, and podcasts featuring prominent local players – including Henrietta Brealey, CEO, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce – we examine how these megatrends might affect the three major conurbations in the West Midlands: Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry.

Using WMREDI’s in-house input-output model, this new project sets out four scenarios for the West Midlands, including:

Our cities emptying out and becoming ‘ghost towns’.
The ‘roaring twenties’ where they undergo robust growth in all areas of the economy.
The ‘city playground’ which turns urban areas into entertainment and leisure centres.
‘Worker bees’, where there is vigorous employment growth in services and manufacturing, but a decline in retail and hospitality.
The scenarios identified in this project could have significant economic consequences and scarring effects of vulnerable groups and places as a result of impacts on human, social, physical and natural capital. This research examines these impacts and trends, developing future scenarios in greater depth to identify, along with policymakers, those policies which may be more effective in restarting the economy, encouraging recovery, and creating long term renewal by encouraging positive trends and mitigating negative effects.
Associate Professor Rebecca Riley
The project points to the need to re-imagine the city centre around strong collaboration in the service sector in shared office space and preserving and building on the city’s diverse leisure and entertainment offer. All this, while ensuring the pathologies of growth, such as rising house prices, crime, and environmental impact, are imaginatively managed.

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