As Birmingham played host last week to the World Baptist Conference attracting thousands of delegates to the city, you can be sure that the PR wheels were spinning like crazy to ensure that this important global audience departed somewhat reluctantly, intrigued to learn more about our fair city in both leisure and business terms.

Birmingham is no stranger to major PR campaigns, locally, nationally and internationally.

Neither is it a surprise that the spin-off of such success is the burst of creative pockets of talent that are springing up all over the city, in particular Digbeth?s Custard Factory and the regenerated Jewellery Quarter.

This powerful wave of smaller creative company start- ups has been acknowledged by our RDA ? Advantage West Midlands ? which has identified the business and professional services sector, which includes this type of firm in its remit, as the fastest growing cluster in the region.

This sector?s development has become strategically important.

It will offer wealth and added value but also underpins the sustainability of other key regional clusters through provision of its expert advice and business support.

The cluster is estimated to comprise 28,400 establishments and employ 90,200 people with an expected growth of 14 per cent before 2010.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations has also recorded incredible growth with membership more than doubling in the last ten years.

It?s not London focused, as you may think, with two-thirds of its membership now based outside London.

Other statistics include the fact that 60 per cent of members are female ? a growth rate which has more than trebled from just 20 per cent in 1987 ? while 45 per cent of its members work in PR consultancy and 55 per cent in-house.

The creative industry has been fobbed off for years as a sector that ?does lunch? all day and then some.

Designers, writers, directors and producers are stereotypically characterised as bearded hippies who wear Oxfam castoffs and speak an alien language.

No longer the case, the sector has come into its own and is recognised as an invaluable industry tool by which organisations and individuals from every walk of life are judged and measured.

I am delighted that Advantage West Midlands has nominated this sector as a priority growth cluster and I am proud of those in this sector who have had the foresight, courage and energy to believe in Birmingham and earn their living here.

Birmingham stands as the largest financial centre outside London.

I?m placing my bet that the creative sector will achieve the same status.