Relocation driving the industrial region

Relocation driving the industrial region

Growing relocations, start-up activity and a vibrant visitor economy are all helping Birmingham’s success in an industrial region. Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, reports.

Now is the time to be in Birmingham. The city and its surrounding areas are securing record levels of investment, businesses and visitors.

From new companies to established global brands, a range of companies are moving here. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area attracted 77 foreign investment projects last year, more than any other English region – creating 4,800 jobs.

It is not just companies that are coming to Birmingham. The city attracted 34 million visitors in 2013, the highest on record. Birmingham is also the most popular destination for Londoners relocating from the capital, according to data from the Office of National Statistics, with some 5,500 people coming to the city in the 12 months to June 2013.

Birmingham has become an increasingly desirable location to tourists and new residents by offering cultural gems such as the CBSO and Birmingham Royal Ballet, a thriving culinary scene that includes four Michelin-starred restaurants, and world-class retail and leisure facilities. The success of sectors including financial services and digital media are providing real career progression opportunities. This hasn’t happened by accident.

Birmingham is tearing down the concrete of the 1960s, transforming its city centre, and improving infrastructure. The upgrading of the city’s transport networks and its growing talent pool are making it easier for companies to set up a base here. The city is within easy reach of London’s business hubs but remains an affordable location.

The challenge is to keep the momentum going as competition between locations to attract investment and a talented workforce continues to grow. Cities like Birmingham must prove that they have the economic strength, attractive environment and strong leadership that truly sells the city globally.

While continued investment from international names is helping to raise the region’s profile as a business destination, the growth of our smaller firms and supply chains is also vital.
Birmingham is already performing well in attracting and retaining entrepreneurs. Over 18,000 new businesses registered in the city during 2014, more than any other outside London. Offering ambitious new firms the right business environment – with access to local talent, cluster networks and funding opportunities – is crucial to their development.

The growth of the region’s incubation hubs, including the Birmingham BioHub, iCentrum and Oxygen Accelerator, will play a lead role in maintaining the city’s reputation as an entrepreneurial hotspot. It is vital to capitalise on the exciting events taking place throughout 2015. Decades of work and huge levels of investment into Birmingham and its surrounding areas are culminating this year, transforming the local landscape and economy.

An array of new or revamped schemes are completing in the coming months – such as New Street station, Resorts World and Grand Central – while major cultural celebrations include the 25th anniversary of Birmingham Royal Ballet and 50 years of the Ikon Gallery.

Marketing Birmingham has been promoting 2015 as a landmark year to the media, potential investors and visitors since early 2014. We have also been working with a range of partners to capitalise on the year ahead, and our ‘Welcome to More’ campaign will raise awareness of the Birmingham area in 2015 – targeting audiences in the UK and overseas through marketing campaigns, PR activity and business development.

The campaign will not end this year. Although 2015 is a landmark year, Birmingham is a city of progress and changes to its physical and economic landscapes will continue. Beyond 2015, the city is entering another period of transformation. The work on Paradise is now underway, and the construction of HS2 is on the horizon. The Ashes is coming to Edgbaston this summer – and this prestigious sporting fixture will also return in 2019.  

Birmingham is poised to welcome the world. And the world is already taking notice. The highly influential Rough Guides has named the city as one of the top ten global destinations to visit in 2015. Birmingham has been ranked sixth in Europe, and top in the UK, for investment prospects in the Emerging Trends in Real Estate – Europe 2015 report by PwC and the Urban Land Institute.

As recognition of Birmingham grows, the city will continue to welcome new companies, new people and new ideas from all over the world. 2015 has all the ingredients to be a significant year in Birmingham’s economic development.