New Street Station creates a bad impression for first-time visitors to Birmingham and must be replaced by a "shining example" of what the city has to offer, according to an American business expert.
Dr Mike Grojean, head of executive education and Associate Dean for Corporate Partnerships at Aston Business School, said a planned £550 million makeover of the station would be good for business.
Dr Grojean, who says he has a passion for his adopted city of Birmingham, said arriving at New Street at the moment was an ordeal. He added: "The refurbishment will go a long way to winning new business for the West Midlands, because people make instant judgements on a first impression.
"Without the investment no-one will want to set up shop where their customers have to go through the ordeal of arriving at the station as it is.
"You don't set about making a good first impression of Birmingham, which is an excellent place, by asking visitors to walk by the dumpster in the back yard first."
Dr Grojean said New Street was frequently derided as "one of the most run down and unwelcoming of all the major terminals on the British railway network".
Much of this could be blamed on the sub-surface nature of the station, the 1960s architecture and because it is built below the Pallasades shopping arcade, he added. Dr Grojean said: "As a business school firmly on the world stage we attract many international executives.
"Once our visitors have made it through the entry points, many of them express surprise at what a great place Birmingham is, but because most of them arrive through New Street it is easy for them to form a wrong first impression.
"New Street Station does not reflect our thriving city centre, rich with its strong business district, excellent retail areas and our colourful community.
"It does not speak of a sophisticated urbane city but more of urban issues."
A Government decision on the final £220 million tranche of funding is expected shortly.