As part of the West Midlands Growth Company’s Annual Review 2018, a dedicated panel of businesses investing or expanding in the West Midlands region discussed key motivations behind their decisions to grow their businesses here.
The West Midlands’ strong economy, attractive workforce and impressive transport network were cited as the key selling points among the investors.
The comments from representatives from recruitment agency Gleeson, the General Dental Council, global rail-freight company Genesee and Wyoming as well as Birmingham City Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward, reflect the same confidence demonstrated in government’s latest foreign direct investment (FDI) figures. More than 170 new FDI projects were recorded in the West Midlands during the 2017/18 year, creating more than 9,400 jobs – the highest number created in any area outside London.
Speaking during the panel discussion, Ian Brack, Chief Executive of the General Dental Council, commented:
“We looked across the country for the ideal location for an operational hub outside of London. We were seeking a highly connected location, a strong workforce and quality office space – Birmingham beat the competition by a long way, making our decision straight forward.
“The investment has already been rewarding for the General Dental Council. The high quality of home-grown talent here is very impressive. There is a huge catchment area of workers and this made us very confident about growing a base here”.
Claire Summerfield, Operations Director at Gleeson Recruitment Group, which is expanding in the region, added:
“As a business, we’ve seen such a tremendous lift in opportunities in the West Midlands’ professional sector. We see the incredible talent in the region and the confidence and ambition here, so it was a no-brainer to expand here rather than looking elsewhere to other cities. We’ve grown from 40 to 60 people in the last two years and we’ll double that number in the next 12 to 18 months. We believe in this region”.
Charles Noble, Chief Financial Officer at Genesee and Wyoming, commented:
“We did an in depth study of where we should move, and we can see that this region offers a lot for the future generation. Compared to London and elsewhere, it’s a very engaged and committed workforce that exists here.
“Here in the West Midlands, you can see the history around us. The region has a visionary approach to how it serves consumers, which is also key for us. As is connectivity - for our business and our employees”.
The panel acknowledged that challenges resulting from increased demand from both foreign investors and businesses and people relocating to the West Midlands, needed to be addressed.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, commented:
“As more and more people are moving to Birmingham, there is greater capacity and reliance on the roads within and around the region. We know we need to invest in cleaner modes of transport. HS2 will be an important catalyst for improving public transport networks across the region. It will also act as a catalyst for further growth in terms of homes and employment opportunities".
Claire Summerfield, added:
“We have got the skills in the West Midlands – but we have to work hard to retain those skills and not lose them. There needs to be a focus on continually upskilling talent.
“As is stands, the region does a great job at producing talent and skilled graduates, and retaining them due its competitive offer and quality of life, which is becoming increasingly important for employees”.
To see the full presentation from the West Midlands Growth Company’s Annual Review, which this year took place at the Birmingham Hippodrome, click here.