Submarine valve specialists, bicycle accessory craftsmen, military uniform makers, local documentary producers... what an eclectic bunch who gathered at Birmingham Day – the manufacturing showcase held in Westminster on Wednesday.
The cross-section of world-leading companies was a neat illustration of the manufacturing strengths of the West Midlands and the message behind the event that ‘We Still Make Things’ could be heard loud and clear in the corridors of power.
Significantly, the day’s keynote speakers – Andy Street, leader of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Stewart Towe, his Black Country counterpart – were united in the message that the regions must work together for the greater good of the Midlands and the UK economy as a whole.
Addressing the room Mr Towe revealed there is a new spirit of cooperation in the region and an acceptance Birmingham can be the hub for a successful local economy.
Mr Street admitted there is still a lot of hard work to be done but said ‘we are working better as a team collaborating across the region’.
The two business leaders were supported by Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, who singled out the £600 million redevelopment of New Street Station – itself in the news this week after its architect stood down – believing it will have a similar impact on the city centre to that enjoyed by the opening of Brindleyplace in the late 1990s.
These strong, stirring words from three key figures in the West Midlands business community, received hearty applause from the packed Jubilee Room.
Now the proof is in the pudding. If partnerships can be formed and old rivalries overcome, the prize is well worth winning.
All this celebration of the West Midlands took place on the same day Birmingham City Council confirmed it is putting up for sale the NEC Group in what could be the biggest property deal ever seen in the region.
Estimates hint that the sale could realise more than £300 million to help the council settle thousands of equal pay cases.
It would be easy to criticise the decision to put on the market an asset that has been contributing to council coffers since 1976 but looking at it from the perspective of an authority facing financial meltdown there appear to be few other options.
Looking ahead to next week and all eyes in the commercial property world will be on Cannes for the annual MIPIM real estate expo which draws developers and investors from across the world.
Birmingham is taking its biggest ever delegation to the event to highlight flagship developments such as Paradise Circus, Arena Central and transport projects connected to HS2 and Birmingham Airport.
Here's hoping Birmingham's MIPIM army works wonders and the city gets to bask in the South of France sunshine.
Stacey Barnfield, editor