Record jobs boost for region

Foreign investors attracted to Greater Birmingham and Solihull.

A record number of jobs (5,988) have been created by foreign direct investment (FDI) pouring into Greater Birmingham’s digital and advanced manufacturing industries over the past year, according to new figures released today by Marketing Birmingham’s Regional Observatory.

Investment by foreign firms generated a record 4,337 new jobs in 2013/14, almost double that of the 2,439 created the previous year. A further 1,663 jobs were safeguarded taking the total number of jobs created and safeguarded by investors to a record 5,988 in 2013/14 – up 68% on last year. The jobs were the result of 62 foreign investment projects across the area over the last year.

The record jobs boost is worth £362 million to the economy, rising from £298 million in 2012/13.

Andy Street, Chairman of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) said: “Greater Birmingham is attracting global attention as investors from around the world begin to take notice of what we have to offer them. Britain’s manufacturing revival is being driven right here in Greater Birmingham, professional services investment is on the rise and foreign digital firms are increasingly drawn here, putting innovation into action. Greater Birmingham is Britain’s shining light when it comes to exports, advanced manufacturing, and inward investment.”

The dramatic increase in investment to the Greater Birmingham area has been fuelled in part by growth in the advanced manufacturing and digital sectors. A quarter of FDI projects in 2013/14 came from creative, digital and tech firms – primarily from small, insurgent start-ups – painting a positive picture of Greater Birmingham’s rapidly growing digital industry. Birmingham was also recently named the most entrepreneurial city in the UK outside London and a ‘start up hotspot’.

The recent influx of overseas digital investment has coincided with the BBC announcing that its new digital innovation team will be developed in Birmingham. The region will also serve as its base for running creative and digital apprenticeships. BBC Director-General Tony Hall commented: “This is just the start – but make no mistake, if you’re interested in new skills and digital innovation, this is the place to be.”

Greater Birmingham’s advanced manufacturing sector continued to attract broad investment with 12 projects delivering 2,000 jobs in 2013/14 – an impressive 46% of all new jobs reported – reaffirming the area’s position as the UK home of manufacturing.

Jaguar Land Rover led the charge with a £1.5billion investment in its Solihull site as part of plans to develop an all-new technically advanced aluminium vehicle architecture. Vax, the household floorcare manufacturer owned by Hong Kong-based TechTronic Industries, was another leading name to show its commitment to the area by placing its new R&D facility in the heart of Birmingham’s Colmore Business District.

The area’s thriving financial and professional services sector also saw a boost with over 600 new jobs in 2013/14. Half of these were created by German investment house, Deutsche Bank, which plans to become the largest trading bank in the city and points to the quality of the area’s talent pool as a key draw to building its presence there.

Further major investors in the professional sector include Hogan Lovells, a growing American law firm, which chose Birmingham ahead of other regional cities as the location for its new UK legal centre. DTZ, the global real estate consultancy, also brought its European financial control centre to Greater Birmingham from Eastern Europe.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, pointed to growing collaboration between the public and private sectors as a driver of the investment success: “Greater Birmingham is going through one of the most significant periods of development in its economic history. As the UK economy improves, it is critical that this upturn is reflected in new inward investment to the area.”

Birmingham was recently recognised as FDI ‘Destination of the Future’ by the FDI Association at the World Forum Awards in Shanghai and the best place to invest in the UK by the highly regarded US investor magazine, Site Selection.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham, which operates Business Birmingham, added: “We have worked hard to create one of the most extensive international networks of any regional city and with the support of our partners, including our highly regarded universities – and their increasing global presence – we expect to build our reach significantly over the coming year.”

Rami added that there was much to be hopeful about: “Looking ahead, our pipeline is very strong with the balance going increasingly towards foreign investors. People from across the globe are talking about Greater Birmingham. The range and depth of our talent, particularly those at the forefront of new technologies across all sectors – from life sciences to digital – is helping us to create an excitement that investors want to be part of.”