Black Country Business Festival: Story to tell over growing confidence
The 2019 Black Country Business Festival has been launched with a rallying call to companies across the region to shout about the great work they are doing.
Black Country Chamber of Commerce chief executive Corin Crane told an audience of 120 from across the region at the University of Wolverhampton's new Springfield Campus: "There is a really brilliant story to tell right across the Black Country."
He said the Black Country was going through a renaissance and there was real pride in its businesses.
"Tell everybody about what is going on – there are some incredible events taking place.
"This is the Black Country - let's use the next two weeks to shout about how fantastic we are."
The breakfast launch in the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills marked the start of the second, annual festival,which runs to May 24 and will see 113 mainly free event taking place to showcase the best of Black Country business and deal with issues affecting the regional economy including stimulating investment, improving transport infrastructure, revitalising retail and equipping the workforce with the skills needed for the 21st Century.
There will be everything from trade shows, seminars and networking events to workshops, premises tours and conferences.
Anyone can attend the events and tickets are free, but must be booked in advance via the website www.blackcountrybusinessfestival.com
The festival was initiated in 2018 by the chamber and this year is being headline sponsored by online retailer, eBay.
WATCH: Highlights from the launch
Murray Lambell, vice-president of UK trading at eBay, said: “The Black Country Business Festival is a fantastic example of how local businesses can work in partnership building sales and putting the region on the map."
Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor said the Black Country had a great story to tell through the festival with old industrial sites being cleaned up and redeveloped for housing, the Metro being extended to link the Black Country to HS2 and investment in improving skills.
“The festival illustrates how confidence is growing across the sectors, fed by innovation, ambition and talent in the region. And just as the Festival aims to connect business people, local industry is benefitting from huge infrastructure improvements that will link up the area’s boroughs, helping trade and bringing investment," he explained.
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said the 12-acre Springfield Campus development on the former brewery site was part of a wider regeneration of this part of the city which would also see 1,000 new homes over the next few years.
"Springfield is all about ambition," he said.
"We are particularly pleased to be hosting this event. We can only create campuses and facilities like this and the skills that are needed if we work in partnership," he explained.
Paul Jones, of Wolverhampton designer bag business Goodstart Jones, one of the 64 city businessed being helped through eBay's Retail Revival project and with ambitions to grow its four-strong workforce and become a premium luxury brand, said: "We could not be happier being based in Wolverhampton.
"The Black Country is a great place to do business and everything we need is right here."
Chief executive of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Sarah Middleton, said the Black Country economy had undergone fantastic growth in the last 12 months with total annual GVA up to £21.7 billion and the ambition was to see that grow by another £11bn over the next few years and increase the number of businesses to 55,000.
She said the region was bucking the national trend on employment creation and to support that more funding was needed for skills training and a new focus needed to be put on creating apprenticeships
The Business Festival was developed by the Black Country Chamber and it is headline partnered by on-line retailer, eBay. Other partners include: DY5 – Dudley’s Business and Innovation Enterprise Zone, Talbots Law, the University of Wolverhampton, Birmingham Airport, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Black Country Growth Hub.
Sponsors are Casino 36 and M6 Toll. Supporters are Wolverhampton Racecourse; accountancy firm, Crowe; Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Think Sandwell, Gecko Programmes and Walsall Council. Media partners are Signal 107, the Express and Star and outdoor media experts are Elonex and Infonote Datasystems.
It is run in association with Associate Events.