Chris Barlow

Modern-day Birmingham is ready to take the next big step in its growing success story – but it needs a heavyweight ambassador to take the lead, says Chris Barlow of Bloomer Heaven

Please introduce yourself

I am Chris Barlow, managing director of Bloomer Heaven chartered accountants and business advisors

What does your company do?

From our office in the heart of Birmingham’s business district we provide services to a wide range of companies and organisations and have built up a portfolio of clients that range across many sectors including manufacturing, property, law and not for profit.

Is Brum a good place to do business?

Birmingham is a wonderful place to do business with a mix of the old, traditional businesses and new sectors pushing through. The investment made in the city both in terms of development of areas like the Colmore Business District and from industry, particularly those linked into manufacturing and the wider motor sector, has helped Birmingham to deal on a world stage.

What are your biggest gripes with it?

The city has a hang up with being the second city – forget London (and Manchester for that matter) – Birmingham should play to its strengths and be proud of them! Birmingham is a big city yet people know each other, and that means that they can put you in touch with whoever you need to know very easily and quickly. That’s a major advantage for businesses.

How do you feel your clients see the city?

The majority are very proud of everything modern-day Birmingham stands for. They understand and appreciate how the city is growing and developing – unlike the national media which still seems to maintain a very outdated stereotype of who we are.

Does Birmingham offer any particular advantages as a destination for business?

The connectivity to the rest of the country and the world is obvious but the fact that Birmingham’s business community is heavily interconnected helps to put people together and get business done. London is always going to dominate because of its size, but what London doesn’t have which we do is the closeness of the business communities in getting things done.

What should our priorities be as a city?

The promotion of Birmingham as the place to do business – and having an ambassador to drive this forward. I’m not going to name names, but there are a number of obvious candidates who have the stature required to really promote the city at the local, national and international level. The other priority has to be improving the transport infrastructure within the city.

If you had £1bn to spend on improving Brum what would you do with it?

As I just mentioned, Birmingham needs a real figurehead on the national and international stage to promote it – and an initiative of that size and importance will need substantial backing. Every penny spent on telling the world about all we have to offer will bring more business and investment into the city. Making links, doing business, building infrastructure…. the list is endless, but £1bn would be repaid many times over if this was really done right. Anything else to add…be proud of the city and tell the world about it. Birmingham is the place to be and to do well in business.