Following the recent high profile conference and AGM, the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) has announced a number of new appointments.

A new board director and social enterprise champion have been recruited following an exercise which saw a strong field of high calibre applicants from across the GBSLEP geography.

Simon Marks, a director of leading global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm EC Harris, an Arcadis company, joins as a new non-executive director and will lead the optimising assets element of the GBSLEP’s agenda. He takes over the role that was previously held by Chris Webster, formerly of Miller Constructions.

The former deputy chair of the Optimising Assets Group, Simon brings with him more than 30 years of extensive experience in the delivery of major residential developments, automotive facilities, infrastructure, public sector transformation and capital projects, all of which made him the ideal candidate to fill this role.

Andy Street, GBSLEP chairman, said: “Simon’s been a strong supporter and advocate of the GBSLEP over the last few years and we’re delighted to have him join us on the board. He will undoubtedly build on the excellent work carried out by Chris Webster and will have a significant contribution to make to our ambitions in this area moving forward.”

Simon Marks said: “This is a particularly exciting time to be joining the GBSLEP board, with the economy growing and this in turn driving the property and construction sector, much progress has been made with optimising assets. With the expansion of the investment and size of the Enterprise Zone and vital funding secured via the City Deal and Growth Deal, it is important we continue to focus on the delivery element. We also need to build on our achievements so far by developing a pipeline of future projects and initiatives and our case for future potential deals.

“I am very passionate about our region and look forward to being part of making it even more successful and being involved in many of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for us.”

In line with the agreed rotation among the universities, the new higher education representative joining the board is Cliff Allan, vice-chancellor at Birmingham City University, who is replacing Professor Dame Julia King, vice-chancellor of Aston University, as board director for building sector strengths and opportunities.

Andy Street continued:  “On behalf of the GBSLEP board, I would like to thank Julia for her tireless work in leading this key sectors element of our agenda and for her support, wise counsel and drive in taking forward the wider GBSLEP strategy.  In particular, Julia has steered us towards a greater focus on how we can make the most of our research and technology strengths to drive growth in key sectors including energy.  Through her vision and insight we are positioned strongly for the future with the new sector champions she has brought on board.”

Also new to the team is Melanie Mills as the GBSLEP’s first social enterprise champion, a position created following recognition of the contribution this sector makes to the economy and its potential to grow further. Melanie is social sector engagement director for Big Society Capital and prior to this, she was chief executive of Social Enterprise West Midlands.

Melanie Mills said: “I’m really pleased to be appointed as the first social enterprise champion to help embed the needs and opportunities of the sector within the GBSLEP’s plans for growth. I believe my experience will enable me to provide a fair and balanced voice for this sector, while helping the GBSLEP focus on harnessing the true potential of social enterprise. In addition I hope my knowledge of social finance will help GBSLEP to explore new options for social innovation and investment.”

Andy Street added: “We welcome all our new board directors and champions and look forward to working with them as we take the next steps to ensure we achieve the generation of growth we seek for the GBSLEP region.”


Photo caption: Simon Marks, a director of EC Harris, an Arcadis company, joins the GBSLEP board as a new non-executive director and will lead the optimising assets element of the agenda.

For press enquiries, please contact Sarah Burton or Nikki Gooch at NC Creative Group – 0121 711 6510 or email sarah@nccreativegroup.com, nikki@nccreativegroup.com

For further information regarding GBSLEP, please contact Katie Trout at GBSLEP – 0121 303 9867 or email katie.trout@birmingham.gov.uk

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