Leading movers and shakers sound their ‘incredible pride’ in the West Midlands at networking event hosted by international law firm Trowers & Hamlins.
Birmingham has been tipped to make its mark on the world business stage as an array of ambitious projects aimed at enhancing the region gather pace.
Innovators, company directors and entrepreneurs expressed their “incredible pride” in the city and the West Midlands as they met at a dinner and networking event hosted by Trowers & Hamlins .
Ringing endorsements of a fast-changing region that has “woken up” despite gloomy national headlines were given at the ‘region in renaissance’ evening organised by the international law firm, who last year expanded their offices in the city centre.
Home-grown businesses, socially-minded entrepreneurs and nimble high-tech starts up who have relocated to the West Midlands were among those who joined an after-dinner, round-table discussion.
HSBC’s relocation of its headquarters to Birmingham in 2017 , the work by the West Midlands Combined Authority and a project to bring a 5G mobile network to the city have all added fresh impetus.
Diversity among the many communities that have settled and contributed to city life, creating a hotbed of language and ideas, was another theme amongst guests.
Armardeep Gill, partner and head of Trowers & Hamlins’ Birmingham office, said: “Now is a time for a real renaissance in a region which has already had a great deal of success over past decades.
“There seems to be a real energy and vibe about the region in terms of its ongoing economic growth and everything the combined authority and other institutions are doing in relation to that.
“The political alignment is bringing benefit to all of us when the broader political environment is somewhat uncertain.
“There is the emergence of nationally and internationally-recognised projects in the region, be that the Commonwealth Games, the 5G testbeds and the ongoing HS2 project which will bring massive investment and infrastructure and the establishment of new supply chains in the region.
“We really are excited about what the future holds”
The lawyer’s optimistic outlook was shared by guests at the Clayton Hotel in Birmingham City Centre on Thursday night.
“Birmingham possesses the skills, the expertise and the energy to really make its mark on a global stage,” he added. “Now it genuinely feels as if it’s our time.”
Eman Al-Hillawi, director of Birmingham-based Entec Si, was among those expressing their pride in the region.
Eman said: “Our business grew up in the Midlands with Birmingham City Council as our first contract and we have stayed for the last 20 or so years and watched it thrive as a region.
“It’s changed enormously and there is an awful lot of exciting stuff going on.
“I did my degree here and stayed because I love the place. There is so much talent and diversity and so many different cultures, with a great sense of pride, which is a massive part of it for us as a business.
“Business is about people and there is nothing better for us than people.”
David Hardman MBE, of Innovation Birmingham, which supports the city’s tech and start-up community, believes the region offers a wealth of exciting prospects.
He said: “The opportunity is in the city today as a consequence of timing. I’ve been here now 11 years and for the past five years it’s woken up.
“There is the inward investment with HSBC and the likes, all the building that’s going on and the skills and talent that are here.
“The start-up community is huge and I’m in digital space, and the digital community is growing. To me, the key thing is opportunity.”
Rosie Ginday, founder of Miss Macaroon, said Birmingham reflected the UK’s reputation as a world leader in social enterprise but warned that young people’s talents are often overlooked by big business.
Speaking in the round-table forum, she said: “We have this fantastic group of people that are being ignored by big business.
“We have pools of incredible talent and if we had a little bit of support around them then we could get them involved in these great things like the City of Culture and Commonwealth Games.”
Earlier in the day, the social entrepreneur, who trains long-term unemployed people, had been at her city centre shop taking part in filming by The British Council for a feature on social enterprises to be aired in Indonesia.
She called on Birmingham’s slew of Michelin-starred restaurants and street food stalls alike to take part in reviving young people’s fortunes.
Rosie said: “Britain is one of the world leaders in social enterprise.
“But as a region, as a city, we could do more to recognise this as a growth area.
“We are one of few cities outside London that has many Michelin-starred restaurants and while you have to have a certain amount of money to go to Michelin-starred restaurants, they offer a fantastic way to build skills and confidence in people in our region who don’t have many skills or qualifications.
“Restaurants and street food places alike can increase the skill level among young people.
“We have a fantastic opportunity with these global events to put resources and money into doing that.”
Sharonjit Clare, co-founder of West Midlands Womens Voice, a company that has worked with the firm on promoting the role of women, called on the region to build on its incredible pride by welcoming fresh expertise.
“What I am hearing here is that there is a lot regional pride, which has really come to the fore in the past five years, helped by these most recent wins of which include national government turning its attention in this direction and recognising it needs other hubs across the UK to do work, to sustain things like Brexit,” she said.
“Although every region is unique, has its own DNA, we should be open to learning from others who do things well.
“Let’s not re-invent the wheel where there is no need, but adopt/ adapt policies and mechanisms we know deliver results and pioneer in spaces where a blueprint does not exist.
“If the aspiration to truly be a global city is there we need to embrace global links.”
The event celebrated Trowers & Hamlins’ ongoing theme ‘a region in renaissance’, exploring how the Midlands can continue to grow and cement its position as a destination of choice for business on a global scale.
The international law firm has been among the global companies showing their faith in Birmingham, announcing in July 2018 that it had doubled its commercial and property litigation teams in the city.
*To join the discussion on Twitter search for @trowers or #ThinkingMidlands
(Source: Birmingham Post)