Developers are putting the recession behind them by stumping up a far higher proportion of the cash needed to enable Birmingham City Council to continue its £250,000 presence at the MIPIM property conference in the south of France.
Private sector sponsorship for next month’s glitzy six-day bash at Cannes has risen from £81,600 last year to £124,000 for 2010. The immediate impact of such generosity during a difficult economic climate is to sharply reduce the cost to taxpayers of Birmingham’s stand at MIPIM.
It is also apparent that some contributors have good reason to keep the council on-side.
The identity of individual sponsors is not being revealed, but the Post understands that developers behind some of the biggest regeneration schemes in the city including Amey, Argent and the Birmingham Development Company are contributing in packages ranging from £5,000 to £15,000.
Other firms, including KPMG and Jaguar, are providing “in kind” assistance.
Argent hopes within the next year or so to land a lucrative contract to redevelop the huge Paradise Circus site in the city centre.
The firm has an exclusivity agreement to work with the council in a joint venture said to be worth £600 million.
Birmingham Development Company, led by Alan Chatham, the entrepreneur responsible for the Mailbox and the Cube, is looking to push forward with a major redevelopment of the former Birmingham Post and Mail building on Colmore Circus.
A 500,000 sq ft building providing a mix of innovative retail, restaurant, leisure, hotel and office uses, together with car parking is proposed, although planning permission is yet to be granted.
Kuwaiti developer Salhia Investments, behind the £170 million Beorma Quarter development proposed for Digbeth, is also understood to have contributed along with developers responsible for the planned Arena Central scheme off Broad Street.
In another efficiency move, council leaders have managed to persuade the public sector in the West Midlands to contribute to Birmingham’s overheads.
The City Region board has agreed to give £60,000 towards the £254,500 cost of the 2010 council stand at MIPIM.
It means that the cost of MIPIM to the city council will be no more than £65,000 this year, compared to £175,123 last year.
Assistant director of investment, enterprise and employment at the council, Jack Glonek, said Birmingham’s continued presence at Cannes would boost confidence in the city during difficult times.
Failure to attend would “send the wrong message” to private sector investors during a sensitive economic period, he claimed.
Mr Glonek added: “The city council is mindful of the cost of staging a presence at this event and every effort has been made to secure external sponsorship in order to reduce the impact on local taxpayers.
“This proposal will achieve a similar presence to that at MIPIM in 2009, which is attractive to sponsors, but at a much-reduced cost to the city council.
“MIPIM internationally promotes Birmingham and its public and private sector developments and will transmit to the private sector Birmingham’s continued economic confidence of the future.”
Last year MIPIM attracted 1,800 exhibitors and 17,700 visitors, many of whom were seeking to secure new investment opportunities.
Would-be developers were given a presentation by council leader Mike Whitby and offered an intensive programme of meetings detailing investment opportunities in Birmingham.
With the recession then beginning to bite, MIPIM’s traditional lavish Champagne-fuelled parties on luxury yachts were either cancelled or scaled down.
Coun Whitby ordered a “beer and sandwiches” approach, dropping the “balti on the beach” party of previous years in favour of a small-scale dinner for key investors. A similarly low-key approach is planned for this year.
Mr Glonek said the goals for Birmingham were to position the city as a world class player at the world’s largest property convention and as a “competitive location in the world market place for investment”.
Since 2006 the council has successfully used MIPIM to attract financial backing for several high-profile development schemes including construction of the Cube, Colmore Plaza and Snow Hill and the refurbishment of Baskerville House.