A successful bid for millions of pounds to promote the region will allow the region to spread its message to all four corners of the globe, according to the man tasked with promoting Birmingham.
The Investing In The City Region project has been awarded more than £8.8 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, with Marketing Birmingham and its partners providing the match funding to create a total budget of more than £17 million for the campaign’s activities.
Marketing Birmingham chief Neil Rami said the successful ERDF bid would mean more trade trips like the recent high-level visit to Chicago to meet with United Airlines and Kraft and a similar event this week to Atlanta would be possible.
He said: “This is the biggest funding boost for promoting the region for a number of years. The reality is that it is even more challenging in the economic climate to attract investment and the stakes are high as we have to create thousands of jobs over three and half years but that is the environment we are in.
“However, we already have 90 active projects from a standing start but this gives us much more resource to work with people like Visit England and Visit Britain and develop much more activity.
“The recently reported trip to Chicago and another one to Atlanta this week are what this kind of investment is about – it puts us in the league we need to be.”
Of the new investment, £1.9 million will go to fund a digital signs project for the city centre in partnership with funding from Centro and the city council, while the rest will be focused on sales and marketing.
Mr Rami said the key to the success of this bid was the partnerships that had been formed with the councils of Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull, as well as Birmingham Airport and others.
He said: “It is really the only way that projects like this can be achieved as we have seen recently with some joint Regional Growth Fund bids. Ultimately businesses don’t see boundaries.”
The city has received a further boost after signing a memorandum of understanding with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), enabling the organisation to become the main point of contact for inward investment on behalf of Greater Birmingham and Solihull.
Marketing Birmingham will deal exclusively with any foreign direct investment (FDI) enquiries from UKTI and lead activity for Greater Birmingham through its inward investment programme, Business Birmingham. The organisation will work closely with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, which continues to manage inward investment activity for the Solihull area.
Mr Rami added: “This will now make us the key point of contact for investment activity. Previously Birmingham has not had the exposure across the UKTI network but this has done a lot to redress the balance. We have already had a number of delegations from across the globe so this is a real coup.”
Steve Hollis, deputy chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, said: “This is a significant step forward for the Greater Birmingham region.
"With competition so fierce to attract foreign direct investment, this new partnership with UKTI, managed by Business Birmingham, has the prospect of generating greater levels of new inward investment to the area.”