Birmingham staged a successful Commonwealth Games last year ©Getty Images

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has announced that more than £3 million ($4 million/€3.5 million) of money that was underspent during last year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will help to grow the region’s businesses.

Birmingham 2022 was backed by £778 million ($879 million/€890 million) of public funding which resulted in the refurbished Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr and the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

It was announced after the Games that £70 million ($91.5 million/€82 million) of that investment was not spent.

The WMCA is looking to use a portion of that money to boost the West Midlands' "Plan for Growth" - a roadmap launched 12 months ago to drive the region's post-pandemic economic recovery.

A support programme is expected to run over the next 18 months to help businesses in key economic clusters which the Plan for Growth identifies as being crucial in creating jobs.

The eight clusters include the manufacture of electric vehicle and battery storage devices, modern and low carbon utilities such as solar and wind power technology, and creative content production and video gaming.

Businesses, including those in supply chains, will be invited to apply to join the programme.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said it was important to use the underspent funds to benefit businesses in the region ©Getty Images
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said it was important to use the underspent funds to benefit businesses in the region ©Getty Images

Each business is then expected to benefit from one-to-one coaching and mentoring, specialist workshops and additional peer support through networking events and ongoing alumni groups supported by the WMCA.

"Through our Plan for Growth, we've already set our focus as a region on driving the investment needed to generate high-quality jobs and valuable opportunities for local people - building on our traditional strong suits whilst also looking to the growth sectors of the future," said West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.

"So, with this new investment, we're taking positive action to provide intensive support to help those businesses with high-growth potential to continue their trajectory.

"It's great news that we're able to provide this much-needed support as part of our £70m legacy funding secured from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games budget underspend.

"We must do all we can to ensure that legacy is felt right across our region - and our economy - in the months and years ahead."

Birmingham 2022 was the best-selling Commonwealth Games to be held in the United Kingdom with more than 1.5 million tickets sold.