It is no coincidence that last week the Prime Minister chose to make his major ‘New Deal’ speech in Dudley.

He knows that right across our country there are millions of people who, with the right support and infrastructure around them, have so much more to offer and achieve than is currently the case – and we know that this is undoubtedly the case here in Dudley.

We have a proud heritage, and some fantastic modern companies that have stemmed from the inspiration of that legacy.

Just look at the example of Kingswinford-based electric and autonomous vehicle manufacturer, Westfield Cars, who the Prime Minister cited as a world-leading example of British innovation in green technologies. But of course, deep down, we know there is more still that we can offer in the 21st Century.

The desire to see Dudley and the wider Black Country thrive has been something I have been working with local businesses on for a few years now, but it is true these things don’t happen overnight.

I am very proud to be chairing an inquiry into what the Black Country needs in order to rebuild after Covid-19. Bringing together Black Country MPs, the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Make UK, CBI and other industry groups.

From this All-Party Parliamentary Group we will be calling for substantial investment in jobs and skills to make sure that this global pandemic doesn’t turn into a long-term economic crisis for millions of families.

This was also one of the major themes of the Prime Minister’s speech.

In the speech there were many encouraging measures announced, but I was particularly pleased with the ‘Opportunity Guarantee’ for young people. Having spoken with parents and teachers over the past few months, I know they share my concern for the effect this period will have on the long-term prospects of the next generation.

This is why the guarantee of either work or training will be vital to preventing long-term scarring of their futures.

I’ve also been speaking with a wide range of businesses from all sectors to discuss exactly what support they will need to aid their recovery.

We have covered some of this in my community podcast, Talking Dudley South with Mike Wood, but I know that as the months progress different challenges will present themselves and the support which businesses need will change.

Business and enterprise are the lifeblood of our economy, and it has been so encouraging to hear from business owners just how enthusiastic they are to ‘bounce back’.

By offering them the right support and infrastructure we will be able to harness this enthusiasm, and I very much look forward to helping them do just that in the months and years ahead.