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Bridge to Birmingham, (UK not Alabama)

Monday 16 June, 2008

I attended this event Bridge 2 Growth which was hosted by British Midlands Development Corp. The offer was to entice those looking to expand in the Europe/UK to look @ Birmingham, England’s 2nd largest city, & the British Midlands, as an alternative to London. A cabinet member of Birmingham city council suggested this area as a gateway to India, & noted that 40% of all foreign direct investment into the European Union comes from the U.S. The head of regeneration of Birmingham city council emphasized the quality of life in the area & mentioned that they are expanding the city from 200km2 to 2000km2 & are seeking residents for 50-75,000 new homes. The inward investment official made European comparisons by mentioning that you are fined if you don’t offer apprenticeships in Germany, while you’re provided with assistance for apprenticeships in the Midlands.

The crux of the offering is lots of free services:

-UK company information

-market support grants & R&D tax advice

-legal & tax guidance

-free banking services

-office space for 6 months

A number of examples were given of midwestern companies which have started operations in the midlands. AAR, a cable distribution company from Ohio, a weatherstripping company, & a simulations company which develops serious games were all named as successful local clients who have taken the plunge. ICT has been the fastest growing sector there in the last year. Birmingham is 1 1/2 hours drive northwest of London & has much less congestion, & consequently a higher quality of life than the capitol of the UK. Financial services are a focus in both locations, but the midlands offers 30% cost savings-Deutsche Bank claimed 50% savings. Incentives are available from the EU, UK, & local authorities, but shouldn’t be the basis for a long-term decision. I requested twice that they send over their presentation & was twice told that it would be sent, but haven’t received anything yet.

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