Plan

Wolverhampton, United Kingdom

Wolverhampton India Project

Wolverhampton City Council

November 30, 2012

Immigrants and transnational networks give a city a strategic advantage in an ever more globalized world

photo: Roger Kidd, via Wikimedia Commons

Tapping into the potential of immigrant communities and business networks to connect local economies to emerging markets is a smart local development strategy for cities. This was the impetus behind the Wolverhampton India Project (WIP), which was launched at the Houses of Parliament in 2007 by the Wolverhampton City Council, the University of Wolverhampton and local partner organizations.

Following the idea of a local MP, Pat McFadden, the project recognizes the city’s diversity and considers the presence of the Indian community as an asset. Some 15% of residents come from India, mostly from the states of Punjab and Gujarat. The India Project builds on existing links to engage in a “win-win” partnership and strengthen economic, educational and cultural ties with India.

Liam Byrne MP said that the Indian population of the West Midlands gives the region a strategic advantage in an ever more globalized world. One significant action for the project was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of Indian Industry Punjab State. Its objective was to increase trade connections with India which will benefit Wolverhampton’s economy and Indian-owned businesses in particular.

The project has attracted key business actors such as the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), UK Trade & Investment and the India Pakistan Trade Unit (West Midlands). The participation of these groups alongside the city has facilitated joint ventures and partnerships between the two countries. In particular, the UKIBC, who has funded a project officer, has been able to increase its profile across the West Midlands Region while leveraging its national networks in both UK and India.

The Wolverhampton India Project has set up a dynamic collaborative framework which was originally business-oriented but has expanded to other fields. The partnership approach between Wolverhampton and India has now extended to education, sports and culture. Links between schools, colleges and the University have been encouraged through initiatives including a joint partnership between two secondary schools to run a young enterprise business focusing on exports; a collaboration between four Wolverhampton secondary schools and six schools in Punjab to discuss the impact of climate change on their respective countries; and the provision of English teachers in rural Punjab schools. Additionally, the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club and the JCT Mills FC in Punjab are participating in joint coaching and community initiatives.

Success

One of the most striking results to date was the opening of a new State Bank of India branch on the Wolverhampton high street in October 2011, a decision based on the success of the project. Rajnish Kumar, its regional head, comments on the benefits to the broader community: “We recognize the potential of setting up in the West Midlands due to the increasing number of Indian companies investing in the region, which has doubled over the last three years.”

The Wolverhampton India Project demonstrates how immigrants can benefit the local community by encouraging their transnational links in a globalized economy while making the most of Wolverhampton’s diversity. The potential of such populations and businesses as transnational drivers for local economic development and integration what makes this project a success.

Making it Work for You:

  • Do the math!  Make the business case for how immigrant skill and transnational networks can help your local economy
  • Be competitive! Position immigrants as an asset and promote their best interests -or you may lose them to a more welcoming community
  • Diversify partnerships at the local, national and international level; we live in a global economy.
  • Good ideas travel. Just as business strategies are finding a place in the not-for-profit world, so can good practice  move from sector to sector and to new audiences.



For this Good Idea contact:

Economic Development Regeneration and Environment , Wolverhampton City Council
Civic Centre
St. Peter's Square
Wolverhampton, United Kingdom,
WV1 1RL
economic.development@wolverhampton.gov.uk
http://www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/business/doing/wip.htm

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