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West Midlands Growth Company formed to promote region on global stage

  • Marketing Birmingham transitions into new West Midlands Growth Company
  • New company to co-ordinate region’s business and tourism assets to secure investment from around the world

A new body – tasked with attracting investment, jobs, visitors and businesses to the West Midlands – has been established.

The creation of the West Midlands Growth Company was formally agreed yesterday at a Marketing Birmingham General Meeting (26th April 2017, Crowne Plaza Birmingham City Centre). This will now see Birmingham’s strategic marketing partnership transition to a new organisation, with a broader remit and new Board being established.

Formed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and aligned to the ambitions set out in the WMCA Strategic Economic Plan, the West Midlands Growth Company will raise the profile of the region in national and global markets, making it more distinctive and attractive to investors.

The West Midlands Growth Company will work in partnership with LEPs, local authorities, Growth Hubs, universities and the private sector. It will be charged with delivering a pipeline of major inward investment propositions, developing a more focused and seamless business support programme and marketing the West Midlands’ visitor economy assets for business and leisure tourists.

Paul Kehoe, chairman of the West Midlands Growth Company, said: “Marketing Birmingham’s journey began on 26th April 1982. It is therefore fitting that exactly 35 years to the day that the company was formed, we and the WMCA are taking this significant step to create a new entity, showcasing the economic opportunities available across the whole of the West Midlands. By working across a unified region, the Growth Company will be able to tell a much stronger story internationally and use this collaboration to its advantage in securing more investment and visits into the West Midlands.

“In recent years, Marketing Birmingham has worked closely with partners across the public and private sectors to secure a record-high number of foreign direct investment projects, the largest growth in international visitors of any UK city outside London and the relocation of HSBC UK from the capital to Birmingham. The decision to create the new West Midlands Growth Company will build on Marketing Birmingham’s expertise for the benefit of the whole region.”

Martin Reeves, Interim Chief Executive of the WMCA, said: “The Growth Company will help the Combined Authority put the West Midlands on the international map like never before. We’ll be working with the public and private sectors – with the likes of our universities at the coalface – to create new jobs; expand existing businesses and attract new investment to the region.

“Creating the West Midlands Growth Company is a huge step towards delivering our aspirations for the region and how we will make the most of devolution, demonstrating that a stronger West Midlands is not just good for local people and businesses, but the whole of the UK.”

Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham is a confident city, punching hard on the global stage. Thanks to the work of Marketing Birmingham, we have created important links across the world, with the likes of China, the Middle East, North America, India and throughout Europe.

“The city will benefit more as part of a region-wide investment offer, working with the cities of Coventry and Wolverhampton and all parts of the Black Country, Solihull and Warwickshire, than it can working alone.

“Together we have the most powerful investment offer in the UK.”

The Marketing Birmingham Partnership Programme, Business Birmingham, Visit Birmingham and Meet Birmingham will continue to be promoted.



Marketing Birmingham’s transition into the West Midlands Growth Company will not affect its current contracts, which includes its Service Level Agreement with Birmingham City Council and the three-year European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) Investing in Greater Birmingham project. The Marketing Birmingham Partnership Programme, which includes some 300 partners across the region’s business and leisure sectors, will also continue.

The West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) will help to create new jobs, expand existing businesses and attract new businesses and investment to the region, aligned to the ambitions set out in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Strategic Economic Plan.

The WMGC has been established in partnership with Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities, Growth Hubs, universities and a wide range of businesses across the private sector. It focuses its core activities across Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire and the Black Country, with the potential and scope to deliver services in a wider Midlands context.

The WMGC is owned by the WMCA and its Constituent Members, with governance that heavily involves the private sector in the majority. Its core WMCA and local authority funding will be used to attract significant additional funding from the private sector and other sources, such as future Devolution Deals.

Birmingham’s international visitors pass the million mark

Birmingham Weekender arts festival

  • City welcomes record-breaking 1.1 million visits in 2015
  • International visitor consumer spend reaches £386 million
  • Birmingham has seen the largest growth in visitors outside London

Birmingham achieved a record-breaking one million international visits last year. This is more than ever before, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The research highlights that the city is the fourth most visited place in the UK by global guests with an increase of 163,000 visitors (17.3%), up on the figure for 2014 (944,000). For the second consecutive year, this was the largest increase for any city outside London.

Consumer spend by foreign visitors reached £386 million – an increase of £87 million on 2014 figures. Similarly, this was the fourth highest of any UK city and only 8% lower than London.

Notably, the research also indicates that the city’s strong tourist appeal was further enhanced in 2015 by a high proportion of international business visitors. With 619,000 visits recorded, Birmingham again saw the highest growth of any city outside London. This is 120,000 (19.4%) up on the figure for 2014 (499,000) and the largest rise of any UK regional city.

Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “These figures are great news for Birmingham, confirming the city’s international standing and growing appeal. More people are discovering Birmingham and its surrounding areas than ever before.

“With over £1billion of investment in the region in the last year, Greater Birmingham is experiencing record levels of growth. These have included the New Street station transport hub, the integrated leisure and entertainment complex Resorts World Birmingham based at the NEC, luxury retail centre The Mailbox and high end shopping destination Grand Central. Birmingham is a city of progress and changes to its physical and economic landscapes will continue.”

Kathryn James, Managing Director, NEC, said: “These latest figures reinforce what we’ve been saying for some time – Birmingham is now emerging as a world class city and Greater Birmingham has never been more attractive for visitors, be it through business investment, tech enterprise, advanced manufacturing, leisure and entertainment or hospitality.

“Our NEC Group venues are also playing their part in attracting international visitors through exhibitions, conference and live events, and even more so now that our destination offer is enhanced following the opening of Resorts World Birmingham on the NEC campus last year.

“The region and its calibre is continuing to grow and our collective offer is being developed further by a connected set of masterplans which are currently in progress and will drive even greater visitor numbers in the future.”

Emma Gray, Director of Marketing and Communications for Marketing Birmingham, said: “It is heartening to see the economic growth in Birmingham – we are now very much on the map with global visitors thanks to an outstanding tourism offering including a packed festivals calendar.

“As global competition to attract tourists remains fierce, we have been actively promoting Birmingham more widely than ever before, targeting markets with large numbers of potential visitors, from Germany, China and India.

“We have also helped showcase some major cultural celebrations including the 25th anniversary of Birmingham Royal Ballet and 50 years of the contemporary art gallery Ikon. Major sporting activity in 2015 included the Rugby World Cup, England v Australia Ashes Test Match at Edgbaston Stadium and the AEGON Classic tennis tournament.

“Our offer was further boosted in 2015, with a focus on enhancing Birmingham’s business tourism sector. Events play a vital role in the city’s visitor economy, which hit an all-time high of £6.2 billion in 2015. By launching new spaces including the Vox Conference Centre and accommodation providers such as Park Regis – we’re ensuring we remain attractive to this valuable market.”

In recent months, Birmingham has continued to target key global visitor markets. Working closely with Birmingham Airport and tourism bodies VisitBritain and VisitEngland, the city has welcomed media delegations from countries including Japan, South Africa, India, Iceland and Belgium to showcase Birmingham’s offer on the world stage.


Notes to Editors

Travel Trends is an annual report issued by the Office of National Statistics that provides estimates and profiles of travel and tourism visits (those of less than 12 months’ duration) and associated earnings and expenditure between the UK and the rest of the world. The International Passenger Survey (IPS) has been providing the source data for travel and tourism since 1961

Media contacts:

Ann Gill, Communications Manager, Marketing Birmingham – 0121 202 5045 /

Rabia Raza, Communications Executive, Marketing Birmingham – 0121 202 5002 /

Tom Marlow, Senior Communications Executive, Marketing Birmingham – 0121 202 5088 /