By Andy Street
All sorts of people have their reasons for supporting Birmingham’s bid – everything from the cultural benefits to the sporting legacy to the upturn in tourism.
All very good reasons to be excited about the prospect of the Commonwealth Games coming to our region.
Ours is certainly the strongest bid in terms of our track record in delivering big events and the sports infrastructure already in place in terms of venues.
But my main reason for being so enthusiastic about this opportunity is that it would provide the ideal showcase for our resurgent region.
Just looking around Birmingham City Centre, you will see unprecedented levels of construction work taking place, investment that is flowing into the city.
And it’s not confined to Birmingham City Centre. Both Coventry and the Black Country are undergoing significant transformation and investment while the work to drive the West Midlands forward as a global centre for driverless and battery-powered vehicles presents an economic opportunity that we are well placed to capitalise on through our innovation leaders and world-class universities.
Over the next few years I fully expect the economic performance of the West Midlands to accelerate noticeably.
And what better shop window to the world than the Commonwealth Games?
This is an opportunity not only for tens of thousands of visitors from all over the globe to see just what a great region this increasingly is, but additionally it will be an opportunity to show off our progress to millions more people around the world through TV and social media.
Of course, the Commonwealth Games is just one of the big prizes I want to play my part in helping our region to win.
The Coventry City of Culture bid for 2021 and the relocation of Channel 4 to the West Midlands are just two of the big ticket opportunities that we have ahead of us and which we should pursue with confidence and enthusiasm.
I would like the ultimate aim to be a much more acute sense of confidence in our region, to not just pursue opportunities, but to draw opportunities to us. The traditional West Midland understating of our success simply has to end.
We’ve had it in us for a long time, once we have the winning mentality as a region, we really will be fulfilling our potential.
To really do this, we need to shake off cynicism, show a sense of unity and passion that makes the West Midlands the natural choice for such opportunities.