Birmingham's economy continues to strengthen as its businesses create prosperity not seen in the city for some years.
It is against this backdrop that West Midlands-based accountants and business advisers Jerroms is proud to sponsor the Birmingham Post Business Awards once again. Jerroms, which specialises in supporting local businesses, has a team of over 100 people working from offices in Kings Heath, Bromsgrove and its head office in Solihull.
Birmingham is a city on the move.
Infrastructure projects like the redevelopment of New Street station, the extension of the Midlands Metro line, the expansion at Birmingham International Airport and the more distant prospect of the HS2 station at Curzon Street are proof of this.
Business confidence in the city has been strengthening – the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey for the second quarter of 2015 showed that 65 per cent of firms expected to achieve higher sales over the next year.
The city remains a top performer in attracting direct investment from overseas.
In terms of business achievements, we have seen massive global success stories like Jaguar Land Rover on the city's doorstep.
Meanwhile, the city has retained its attraction for expansion and development and as a destination for business relocation.
Earlier this year, there was a good example as it was announced that the headquarters of the personal and business banking arm of HSBC bank is to relocate from London to Birmingham.
The bank said about 1,000 jobs will be transferred to the city as part of the move, which is expected to happen in 2017.
Though hugely significant, the planned HSBC is just the high profile tip of the metaphorical iceberg.
Birmingham remains a fantastic business city.
So says Mark Eden, director at Jerroms: "The acknowledged entrepreneurial culture and skills of Birmingham are the both the foundation and hallmark of the city's success.
"Thanks to this, the city was able to play its full part in the economic recovery of the UK and now it is sharing fully in the benefits from the growth of the economy.
"In the city, established companies both large and small have seen their fortunes restored while new and early stage high growth businesses have developed. These have been in areas such as specialist manufacturing, IT and professional services.
"A great deal has been achieved despite some skill shortages and the stronger pound, which has increased the challenge for exporters.
"In fact, the Greater Birmingham Chambers Quarterly Economic Survey suggests that 29 per cent of firms had seen their export sales increase in the second quarter of 2015."
Apart from Birmingham's traditional business strengths, Mr Eden highlights the adaptable sources of finance as a factor.
"In addition to the major banks, we have seen the emergence of smaller and so-called ‘challenger' banks and the further growth of Internet-based peer to peer lending," he said.
Lucas Markou, also a director at Jerroms, says that the city's professional advisers have played their full part in the turnaround in the city's economic fortunes since the financial crisis of a few years ago.
He said: "For example, at Jerroms, we have always been always impressed, even in the difficult times, by the contribution that privately owned and family businesses make to Birmingham.
"We have long focused on supporting these businesses and their owners, shareholders, partners and managers.
"Our services are not confined to management accounts, audits and tax returns.
"We look at businesses and the aspirations of their owners holistically and provide business advice, such as profit improvement strategies and financial forecasting, to help them to create value and achieve their business goals.
"We also assist with business planning, identifying critical success factors, barriers to progress and key performance indicators (including potential tax efficient share ownership schemes) to encourage management and staff.
"This can be vital in achieving success.
"We introduce owners and managers to selected banks and sources of equity finance as well as the Internet-based financiers.
"Beyond that introduction, we help the businesses to present the case for financial backing in the best possible light.
"My view is that the need for business planning as a basis for establishing the appropriate mix of finance required and of raising additional growth finance is vital.
"Working capital finance remains an important issue for businesses as they see the need to finance higher levels of stock and debtors to accommodate more order activity.
"This can be a particular problem where companies are sub-contractors in a supply chain with main contractors or are supplying to export markets.
"Asset finance remains popular and there will usually be companies willing to provide it."
Mr Markou points out that improved performance by businesses in terms of profitability can be good news for those who have founded and built businesses in the city.
Expanding on this theme, Mr Markou said: "Corporate finance is another specialist service area for us and we have seen a resurgence of deal activity in Birmingham, leading to succession plans being achieved by retiring owners.
"Deal prices have risen enough to deliver good returns to those who have built businesses up while providing the basis for further growth under new and enthusiastic owners or managers.
"Again, the sourcing of finance and advice on it is at the heart of the matter for business buyers as it is for business generally.
"It is for that reason that we are delighted to be sponsoring the Finance category of the Birmingham Post Business Awards."