Birmingham is an international city in every way.
From its diverse population, with ties to every part of the globe, to its world-class cultural attractions, it looks beyond its own borders and seeks to claim a place on the world stage.
That’s one reason, of course, why the expansion of Birmingham Airport is so important.
And this doesn’t just apply to Birmingham itself (the airport, after all, is actually in Solihull).
The same is true of the Black Country and Coventry – and to the area which, it appears, we will increasingly have to refer to as Greater Birmingham.
This is the area covered by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. It may be a little unclear what exactly its borders are based on, but it seems to work as a region.
Naturally, one of the most important ways in which Greater Birmingham forges links with the rest of the world is through trade and investment. And as we report, foreign investment in Birmingham has soared by 52 per cent, creating more than 2,200 jobs and boosting the city’s economy by £174 million.
A significant part of this is driven by the growth of Jaguar Land Rover and the expansion of Shanghai Automotive’s European Design Centre.
The automotive industry remains an enormously important source of jobs and wealth in the West Midlands, despite enormous challenges and setbacks it has faced in years gone by.
But it is nonetheless only part of the engineering and manufacturing sector in the region, as the creation of a new manufacturing hub for Australian packaging company TNA illustrates.
And a point which is sometimes overlooked is that the financial services industries are also extremely important in Birmingham. The West Midlands isn’t just about manufacturing – something to consider, perhaps, when there is talk about penalising the financial sector.
It’s easy to imagine that attacks on our banks are all about rich yuppies in London but the banks are important employers here.
Where does investment come from? Australia, India, China and the United States are important investors in the region, as well as our European partners.
Birmingham looks to the world, not to any one continent. Debate about UK membership of the European Union is going to become increasingly frenetic in years to come – we’ll all no doubt be sick of the topic before it’s resolved one way or another. But if it is to win support, the EU and those who control it (elected politicians, ultimately, not the bureaucrats of legend) must ensure that it helps countries like ours to trade across the globe, not just internally.
The city council seems to appreciate that it plays an important role promoting Birmingham globally, something the previous Tory-led regime also understood.
We want to create a fairer city where everyone can share in its wealth, but to do that we first need to ensure that we create that wealth.