Birmingham is booming with finance and tech leading the wayDigital Editor
Widely regarded as the UK’s ‘second city’, Birmingham is living up to its reputation following an acceleration of investment over the last year, notably within the finance and technology industries.
The Government’s Levelling Up initiative is gaining momentum with the substantial regional differences in economic performance being addressed – and as a consequence, Birmingham is becoming a regional success story with major businesses and public sector bodies opening new HQs in the city.
Just this week Goldman Sachs announced it was opening a major new global software development site in Birmingham, having assessed the merits of numerous international cities. After a two-year search, the company kept coming back to Birmingham having been attracted by its reputation as a technology and financial services hub, its transport investment and its attractive modern European centre living with canal side landscaping, cycle paths and quality office space.
“If it is good enough for Goldman Sachs it is good enough for anyone,”
Sandra Wallace, who jointly runs the European network of law firm DLA Piper from Birmingham
And Goldman Sachs is not the only major player to create a base within the city. Both the domestic headquarters of HSBC and a large outpost of Deutsche Bank are also now resident.
Furthermore, the start-up community continues to thrive with more start-ups being created in Birmingham than anywhere outside the capital, according to an annual index compiled be the Centre for Entrepreneurs think-tank.
Innesco has always been a great champion of the city and region, casting light on its commercial opportunities with our work on a number of key investment and development projects.
In March this year we supported international investor and developer, Cervidae which secured funding for its new co-working project on Colmore row in the heart of Birmingham’s civic centre, a thriving commercial hub benefiting from substantial investment at adjacent sites. Moda Living’s new £260 million build to rent development, Great Charles Square, for example, which Innesco worked on last year, is set to deliver over 700 new rental homes within the city centre. This is located minutes from Argent’s well-known £700 million Paradise development – including a record-setting tower containing 346 build to rent flats, which is now in for planning, a number other office and mixed use buildings which are at various stages of planning/construction, as well retail, hospitality and public realm improvements, all of which is attracting significant commercial interest.
While Birmingham seems to grab the headlines more than most, the boom in regional investment can certainly be seen elsewhere, as major blue-chip companies announce plans to move into Yorkshire’s top cities.
Also announced this week, parts of the Bank of England will be moving to Leeds as the central bank takes advantage of “work from anywhere” culture. Governor Andrew Bailey has announced that a new “northern hub” will be created to “significantly increase its staff presence across the UK”. Though not yet final, Leeds has been chosen as the preferred site for the “northern hub”, due to the Bank’s established presence in the city. Having had a branch in the city since 1827, the largest of its 12 regional agents’ offices are in Leeds.
The Department of Transport has also announced a new ‘northern hub’ in Leeds, which it claims will bring hundreds of jobs to the city. Birmingham will be sharing in this move as the department says the new Leeds hub will be twinned with a second headquarters in Birmingham, bringing 650 jobs to the two cities in total.
While the likes of Goldman Sachs are turning heads, decentralization has been a steady trend – and one that will be boosted when the high speed HS2 railway opens, halving the time it will take to travel from London to Birmingham.
Still, while these regional markets are on an exciting trajectory, some believe it will take many more Goldmans and HSBCs to overcome decades of deindustrialization that has scarred the regions, particularly the West Midlands. Diane Coyle, professor of public policy at the university of Cambridge, commented in FT at the start of the week: “There is no science about when a city begins a virtuous circle with enough good jobs that people get the skills to fill them and because of that new employers keep coming in. Is Birmingham at that level? We just have to wait and see.”
And wait and see we will – with a keen eye, as there will surely be more to come on the investment front in Birmingham and its fellow regional hotspots in the months.
Becs Danner, Editor & Copywriter, Innesco
Photo credit: David Edkins, Unsplash