Construction and development giant Willmott Dixon has become the first major business to nail its colours to the Birmingham-Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) bid.

Birmingham City Council leader Coun Mike Whitby welcomed Willmott Dixon’s commitment and said this was the first of over 140 businesses that had expressed interest in working closely with the new LEP to be established to promote enterprise in Birmingham, Solihull, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Tamworth and Bromsgrove.

Willmott Dixon is the UK’s third largest privately-owned capital works, regeneration and support services company.

The company has a strong Midlands presence, employing nearly 1,000 people in the region and with two offices in Birmingham and one in Coleshill. Current projects include two care homes in Turves Green and Meadway, the new Academy of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in Tipton plus the upgrading of care accommodation in neighbouring Walsall.

Last year Willmott Dixon secured a five-year contract from Birmingham City Council worth around £95 million to repair and maintain 40,000 council homes and properties in south Birmingham.

This brings to 60,000 the number of homes and properties in Birmingham that Willmott Dixon is responsible for following its earlier appointment in north Birmingham by the City Council.

Chris Durkin, chief executive of Willmott Dixon Support Services, which manages the contract for the 60,000 properties, said: “We have been very impressed by the leadership the City has shown in how it wants to develop and grow, from its ambitious LEP plans to the launch last week of its Big City Plan, which provides a blueprint for the rebuilding of Birmingham.

"It is the sort of direction that companies like Willmott Dixon thrive on and we hope to play a long-term role in supporting the LEP, which can be the conduit for the delivery of the Big City Plan.”

Coun Whitby said: “If we are to turn the Big City Plan into reality, into property development, jobs and wealth creation, we need the support of firms like Willmott Dixon, who we would welcome on to the board of the new LEP.

“The private sector has a vital role to play in helping us deliver major capital projects within the Big City Plan. It is the private sector in our LEP area that will help to lead us out of recession through innovation and investment that leads to job creation.

“As a local authority and within the wider LEP area, we need to support the private sector in order to create economic stimulus.”

How Willmott Dixon and Birmingham City Council can work together was outlined at a breakfast briefing during the Conservative Party Conference, attended by over 50 people from the city’s business community.

John Frankiewicz, chief executive of Willmott Dixon Capital Works, told delegates: “There is a lot of synergy between Willmott Dixon and Birmingham. This is a city that knows what it wants, has the masterplan and the leadership to achieve it, and speaking for a company that has renewed tens of thousands of homes and many communities in the past, we look forward to working in partnership with Birmingham to make its vision a reality."