It is over 12 years since I moved from Chester in the Northern Powerhouse to Birmingham, at the very centre of the Midlands Engine. At the time, friends and family warned me that my new life would be spent in traffic jams on the M6, eating Baltis and watching rubbish football teams, such was their view of the Midlands (to be fair they were right on one of those points – I’ll leave that one with you!).
Fast forward to 23rd August 2016. I’m sitting on the roof terrace of the Genting hotel, at the heart of the recently opened Resort World in the outskirts of Birmingham. As I look to the skyline I see another flight arriving at Birmingham airport. Just this week Paul Kehoe, CEO at Birmingham airport, and his team announced record passenger numbers of over 11 million. I also recalled, when checking out of my hotel, that occupancy rates across the ever growing Birmingham hotel scene recorded a 13 year high in spring, reaching an impressive 75%.
Before sitting down to write my blog, I popped up to Brindley Place to meet a former colleague, who now works at Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank has broken the mould in being the first company with a significant trading desk presence in the Midlands, now housing 200+ traders in the city – a coup for the hard working team at Marketing Birmingham. On my way back to our temporary office in Regus – which we’re in for a few months while we get our new HQ ready – I note the progress being made with the construction of the new HSBC building, which will see 1000 new roles relocated to Birmingham in 2019.
It’s fair to say, then, that the city is a genuinely exciting place to be.
The Midlands, of course, is much more than Birmingham. You only have to look across the region to note the great companies that are based here: Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Boots and Next to name a few. The region generates £200bn plus revenue a year and the West Midlands has just received the first £36m funding from the government as part of the devolution deal.
So, back to the Genting hotel balcony. Some of you will know Curium as customers. As mentioned, we’re building a state-of-the art new office, which we’ll be moving into in the next few weeks (we hope many of you will join us for our official launch). These are slap bang in the middle of the city’s business district. We are increasingly excited by the potential that exists in the Midlands; there are plenty of companies we can work in partnership with, there is a rich source of talent who can join the team and there is a real vibe of excitement across the region.
Finally, back to the naysayers who warned me off my move to the Midlands. There is so much more to Brum than Baltis and traffic queues. As well as the highlights I’ve already talked about, the M6 toll road and newly opened Birmingham New Street station help me to dodge the traffic, and, while I love a good Balti as much as the next person, there is a plethora of choice when it comes to dining – more Michelin star restaurants than you can shake a stick at and some mighty fine coffee shops and the odd pub too. The football team on the other hand… maybe they had one thing right.