The reinvigoration of the West Midlands has moved into a higher gear in recent months as individuals and businesses from the rest of the UK and further afield put their faith in the region’s credentials. The area is showing its strengths in a wide range of aspects that see it standing out as the UK’s new growth capital.
The broadcaster has selected Birmingham along with Greater Manchester & Leeds as the three final locations for its new home, as it looks to expand its presence outside of the capital.
The headquarters will consist of a new studio, a base for daily programmes, a new digital production unit and offices, creating hundreds of jobs across all areas of C4’s business, and enhancing the region’s reputation as place for creative companies to grow.
The West Midlands will also be in the running to host one of C4’s new regional, creative hubs, should its bid for the national HQ, be unsuccessful. The other cities shortlisted as potential creative hub locations are: Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow.
The next stage of the process will involve C4 working with the West Midlands’ campaign team for a more in-depth assessment of the commercial aspects of the bid and to look at specific locations for the broadcaster’s new home.
Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said:
"It's great news that Birmingham has been shortlisted. We're a perfect fit for Channel 4, with a wealth of knowledge and creativity, combined with one of the youngest and most diverse populations in Europe.
"We have the digital skills, the talent and the energy needed to make the move a major success and Channel 4 has a huge opportunity to tap into a city and a region of huge potential."
Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said:
“We are naturally disappointed at today’s announcement.
“What does not change is that our city offers excellent transport links, a young, diverse population and a reputation for design and innovation which makes us an attractive option for potential investors along with our central location that means we are within two hours of 40 million people.
“Although we believed Coventry was the perfect choice, if it wasn’t to be us, the next best result is for Channel 4 to select a location in the vicinity. Therefore, it is good to see Birmingham is still in the running to host Channel 4 and we wish them well in their endeavours.
“But the future for Coventry is very bright and we continue to look forward to our Year of Wellbeing in 2019, our European City of Sport status next year and of course being UK City of Culture in 2021 as well as being named home of the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre.”
The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said:
“Channel 4 has today confirmed Birmingham is on the final shortlist to be the broadcaster’s new national HQ. Clearly, this is excellent news and I would like to thank everybody who has worked with us on the bid.
“As a region, we encouraged and supported a bid by both Birmingham and Coventry, so it is disappointing that the latter has not made the shortlist. Everyone in Coventry should be proud of the confidence and energy of their efforts.
“Now, it is important the whole region gets behind the Birmingham bid. If we are successful in attracting the HQ, the benefits will be felt across the West Midlands.
“The West Midlands is the natural choice for Channel 4. Our unrivalled connectivity, the diverse and young nature of our population and the strength of our creative and digital economy mean we have a really compelling case for Birmingham.
“Now we up our game and find another gear as we continue discussions with the broadcaster ahead of the final decision.”
The campaign to convince C4 to move to the West Midlands saw a cast of creative talent, including: Adil Ray (writer/actor/director); Steven Knight (screenwriter/film director); Debbie Isitt, creator of film franchise Nativity; and local poet Casey Bailey, highlight the strength of talent that exists across the region at the end of June to a delegation from C4, which included chief executive Alex Mahon.
The WMCA bid highlights the many strengths of the West Midlands under the strapline of ‘Get Closer’, including: the region’s unparalleled connectedness to talent, ideas and resources, its youth and diversity, and the ongoing success and development the region is experiencing such as Coventry named UK City of Culture 2021, and the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
C4 is seeking to establish its new national HQ and creative hubs outside London, as part of its '4 All the UK' strategy. The final announcement will be in October, with the broadcaster moving to the new HQ in 2019.