I have worked in Birmingham for most of my life, running my own PR agency in Digbeth prior to a successful sale to a major competitor. I then followed this success with many years of work in England’s capital.
Having now made a timely return to my home city to continue my work in the fields of PR, marketing and business development, I’ve noticed something: times have changed.
And they’ve changed quickly - Birmingham’s now in the best shape it’s ever been in for business. For some time now, Birmingham has been hot on the heels of London, and the unprecedented commercial investment the city is seeing is testament to this. I firmly believe now is the time when everyone should focus on the second largest city in the UK. As a result, listed below are the top five reasons to invest in Birmingham:
The Colmore District
Birmingham’s famous business district is unique. Where else can you find an office on a Cathedral square, situated in such close proximity to railways stations and trams?
Accessibility, atmosphere and views aside, the pull of the Colmore district has seen many world class organisations position major offices there for strategic reasons. In addition to being a more financially viable commercial property option than London, Colmore also benefits from being in close proximity to the more creative area of Birmingham: the prestigious Jewellery Quarter.
Oh and by the way, the famous Grade II listed Grand Hotel is also soon due to open, bringing with it substantial footfall and commercial opportunities.
The Skill Set
Birmingham’s mix of ‘real-world skills’ sets it apart. While manufacturing and engineering are remain areas in which we excel, we increasingly nurture, promote and deliver our growing digital expertise. Birmingham is unique in it’s approach to digital investment: not only do we have that zeal and fresh thinking in our own ‘digital hub’, we also have the people to engineer that creativity to deliver to market and to success.
Another obvious growth area is the finance sector. Large employers continue to invest here and feedback suggests that recruitment is not a problem, retention rates are high, salary levels are at a competitive level relative to the higher costs of living in London.
A ‘Can-Do’ Buzz
Cliché though it may be, we are working hard and playing hard in equal measure. As employment opportunities broaden and facilities improve, we’re seeing Birmingham’s infrastructure become increasingly well-equipped to support a fast moving professional urban lifestyle.
Birmingham is fast becoming a fun and ideal location for ambitious and talented professionals that typically migrate to London: it’s no longer a one-horse race.
A Buy In From The Authorities
Someone, somewhere is joining the dots. From the City Council, government agencies and transport companies, to the major employers and infrastructure support, it’s becoming clear to the world that Birmingham is open for business.
In fact, Birmingham’s response to the possibilities of HS2 is just a taster of the sense of business community that Birmingham is creating, and this sure to spread to all support services, encouraging further investment.
Housing And Social Life
I must admit, like most professionals, I ‘get’ London. I worked in the city for three years and as you can imagine, it was fun. But then there’s the reality: I was staying in a hotel for much of my time there, so I was insulated from the financial demands of renting or buying property in London.
See, compared to Birmingham, London is a completely different (and financially demanding) ball game. The thing is though, this has always been offset by the business opportunities and high salaries. But times are changing, and the gap between regional opportunities are becoming more prevalent. Birmingham is a prime example of this. When we consider that city centre properties in Birmingham (both to buy and rent) are plentiful, affordable and supported by a robust shopping and entertainment infrastructure, the pull of Birmingham for businesses and professionals becomes understandable.
If you’re considering investing in, or setting up a business in Birmingham, Catalyst can help you hit the ground running.