We’ve got a great city with superb facilities, so come on Brummies – be proud and loud about it, says Henrik Court of Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Please introduce yourself
I’m Henrik Court, director of events at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. We have 3,000 members and are the largest business support membership organisation in the region.
What does your organisation do?
We provide support and advice for all businesses here and beyond and are one of the most active Chambers in the country. We plan, organise and run a range of events for businesses to have the opportunity to network, raise their profile and develop their knowledge and skills.
Is Brum a good place to do business?
Birmingham has great transport links and conferencing and meeting places, such as the International Convention Centre and National Exhibition Centre. The city has a diverse culture too, with a great range of restaurants, theatres, sporting venues and concert facilities – not to mention shops.
What are your biggest gripes with it?
I am proud of the city I was born in and tell everyone how great it is… but I wish everyone else would be as positive. The city has made great progress over the years and the external perception has improved. Inward investment has increased to record levels and visitor numbers continue to grow. So, come on Birmingham, let’s be proud and let’s be loud!
How do your members and others see the city?
Over the past couple of years we have seen an increase in the number enquiries we receive from outside the region. We recently organised an event for the Embassy of Vietnam and we are currently working on another for an agency of the Mexican government, so there is much interest in doing business in the city, both here and abroad.
Does Birmingham offer any particular advantages as a destination for business?
We benefit from our central geographical location and with the planned developments of HS2 and the airport runway extension, Birmingham will become even more accessible. This can only lead to greater opportunities for businesses.
What should our priorities be as a city?
Developing the skills of the people in the region. Birmingham has created more jobs in the UK than any other city except London, but all too frequently the people applying do not have the necessary knowledge and skills. We need to retain more graduates from our great universities and colleges, as well as give appropriate training and practical experience to those others not going into higher education.
If you had £1bn to spend on improving Brum what would you do with it?
I would spend it up-skilling our workforce. It would be nice to be able to offer more support to businesses, too. On a personal note, I’d like Birmingham to become a more cycle-friendly city, like Copenhagen for example. If I had some budget left, I would look to get Aston Villa winning the premiership and playing in the Champion’s League!