By Marcus Leach
Almost 1,800 jobs have been created as a result of inward investment in Birmingham in the eight months to December 2011, with nearly 40% in financial services and more than 20% in transport technologies.
The figures were announced by Business Birmingham, the city’s inward investment programme. This jobs creation has been driven by the proactive focus of Business Birmingham since it started operating in April 2011.
“To generate investment and jobs, we have focused on raising the profile of Birmingham, and its sectoral strengths, on a global scale," Wouter Schuitemaker, Investment Director at Business Birmingham, commented.
"The Business Birmingham team has conducted a number of successful international trade visits — to destinations including India, France and five cities across the USA. We have also welcomed the Chinese Premier and the German Ambassador to Birmingham, and hosted our 2DigitalDays event to showcase the area’s vibrant digital community to potential investors.
“We have exceeded our overall job creation target by 42% so far, generating 1,777 jobs against an original target of 1,250 until April 2012. This has in a large part been driven by strong performances in financial services and in automotive, where we have surpassed our targets considerably. With investment from organisations including the Business Growth Fund, Trowers & Hamlins and FIS Global, and more in the pipeline, it is a trend we anticipate continuing into 2012.”
According to Mr Schuitemaker, the figures demonstrate that Business Birmingham’s sectoral and market-focused inward investment strategy is paying dividends; targeting overseas organisations with an appetite for the skills and innovations that the Birmingham area can demonstrate through its talent and solid supply chain opportunities, and identifying countries based upon both existing trade links and size of opportunity — the USA and India in particular.
“By concentrating on sectors such as advanced manufacturing and engineering, financial services and low carbon technologies, we have been able to leverage the value and service chains built around resident global players such as ThyssenKrupp, Jaguar Land Rover and most recently, Skanska," he added.
“As we move into 2012, we will continue to build on these strengths but also focus more strongly on life sciences and digital media. Due to our recent success Business Birmingham is also extending our target audience to 10 markets from four, including China, Japan, Australia and Switzerland, based on higher than expected levels of interest from these markets.”
Some 120 inward investment prospects are in the pipeline for Business Birmingham — of which nearly two thirds (65%) are in financial and business services, digital media, manufacturing and transport technologies. North America has the most overseas projects (16%), followed by India (6%) and Germany (5%).
In November, Business Birmingham signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UK Trade & Investment to become the main point of contact for inward investment enquiries for Greater Birmingham and Solihull. It has been in operation since April 2011 after officially launching in October 2010 as part of the city’s strategic marketing partnership, Marketing Birmingham. Business Birmingham also works closely with the Black Country to generate investment into the wider area.
“In October 2010 Birmingham was the first city in the UK to officially integrate business inward investment with visitor marketing, a model that has proven to be effective," Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham, said.
"We are leading the way by aligning these activities, and have built upon this collaborative approach further by co-locating with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and other local organisations to form the Birmingham Business Hub, which provides local and overseas businesses with advice and services from one location.”
The Birmingham Business Hub also brings together regional finance providers, business support specialists and membership bodies including Finance Birmingham, Birmingham Forward, Birmingham City Council, Aston Reinvestment Trust and key elements of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group.
In 2011 to date, Birmingham has attracted the most FDI by value of any UK regional city — totalling more than £540 million. The latest Mercer Quality of Living 2011 global survey also highlighted Birmingham as the most attractive UK regional city for quality of life, ranking in 52nd place internationally having moved up by three places, from 55 in 2010.
“Our jobs creation and the Mercer survey corroborate our decision to make inward investment a part of the city’s destination marketing strategy. We are delivering for inward investors — both commercially and personally for their staff in terms of quality of life," Mr Rami added.
“We have ambitious aims for Birmingham, but our joined-up approach, exceptional talent base, and future fitness in terms of skills coming through from our leading universities and apprenticeship programmes, means that we are ideally positioned to capitalise on growth sectors and appetite from overseas investors to locate in the UK.”
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