About 900 delegates from the world of business will come to Birmingham next week to hear heavyweight speakers including Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke and Karren Brady at the British Chambers of Commerce convention.
Entitled The Business Convention – the Road to Recovery, the event, on Monday, April 27, at the ICC will bring firms together to hear key figures from the worlds of business and politics discuss the issues faced by companies in the recession.
Organisers say attendance this year is up eight per cent on last year’s event.
Delegates will also hear from Lord Karan Bilimoria, founder and chairman of Cobra Beer, Will Hutton of the Work Foundation and Baroness Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business.
Gerald Ratner is due to speak at the Gala Dinner on Monday night.
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Birmingham’s Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are showing higher than expected registrations for all parts of the event.
“I think that in a recession business knows that it has to try even harder to get new customers, and they see this convention as the best place for new contacts.
Also among those speaking will be David Frost, director general of British Chambers of Commerce, who talked to The Birmingham Post ahead of the event about the issues on the agenda.
He said: “The convention is entitled Road to Recovery and clearly the key points for us and for our members are going to be what needs to be done to drive us out of the recession.”
“They will want to hear from both government and opposition politicians to know that they have an understanding of how important it is to get the economy going.”
Mr Frost said businesses attending the convention would welcome some of the points announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling in Wednesday’s Budget.
“I think the first thing to recognise is that there were some measures that will help business in the Midlands, such as the car scrappage scheme.
“We have also got trade credit insurance and capital allowances which indicate that the government understands the importance of business and that it will be our businesses that will get us out of the recession.”
But he described the growth figures quoted by Mr Darling, predicting the UK economy would start growing again by the end of this year and expand by 1.25 per cent next year, as too optimistic.
And he said the decision to raise the top income tax rates for people earning above £150,000 to 50 per cent was “not a good move”.
“If we are trying to build up this country and the City as a global financial centre, a high rate is not the way to do it and it doesn’t bring in much money either.”
He outlined the importance of manufacturing in the UK’s recovery and stressed the West Midlands’ role to play as the economy emerges from the recession.
“It’s the heart of manufacturing and it is also a very strong export area.
“When we get out of the recession there will be a very strong export drive and we want to see the Government help companies to export.
“I think there could be more support through the UKTI to help exporters focus on high-growth markets not only Brazil, China and India but also Saudi Arabia, Germany and France and look at how we can take advantage of opportunities when we come out of recession.