We speak to Jilly Cosgrove MD of design agency Barques to hear her thoughts on the city which has been her home for the past two decades
Please introduce yourself?
My name is Jilly Cosgrove, I am managing director of Barques design agency.
What does your company do?
We are a graphic/digital design, PR and marketing agency, which was established in 1989. During that time we have grown from a team of two to thirteen. We work in all sectors of industry, but are perceived as specialists in the property/construction and financial services industry offering graphic/digital design solutions, marketing and PR services.
Is Brum a good place to do business?
Absolutely, the people of Birmingham have a good work ethic – originally known as the city of a thousand trades it has a wide skills base and a great entrepreneurial spirit. Birmingham is my adopted home – I moved down here in 1982 from Leeds – I have a great passion for it and the way the city has changed in 30 plus years is phenomenal. I think people who relocate to Birmingham become great ambassadors for the city and really appreciate how it has changed.
What are your biggest gripes with it?
There is not a venue big enough to hold 500 people for a sit down corporate event in the city centre. Every year we hold an charity event called the Brenda’s (Birmingham Real Estate Novel Development Awards) – we sell 36 tables of 10 and could easily sell 50 but there is just nowhere in the city centre that can accommodate an event of this size other than the ICC or other venues just outside the city.
How do you feel your clients see the city
They see it as a city that has changed for the best. I love it when clients visit Birmingham and are impressed because there’s perception that it’s a city that you wouldn’t necessarily visit except for business. We send people away with a feeling they want to come back. With so much going on in the city at the moment – we are constantly improving our offering and, within the next year or two with a few of the projects delivered, I truly think that there will be no disputing our claim that we are the second city.
Does Birmingham offer any particular advantages as a destination for business?
Its location, business excellence, supportive council and LEP. Also HS2 is on the horizon and there are great transport links, the growing airport, great schools and universities. Plus after a 10 minute drive you can be in the countryside.
What should our priorities be as a city?
To promote ourselves better, stop being self-deprecating, invest in manufacturing, build more and get the city’s infrastructure right.
The one billion dollar question (if you had £1bn to spend on improving Brum what would you do with it)
I would get rid of all the underpasses and fill in all the subways to create better connectivity throughout the city. Until connectivity is sorted I always feel that to get to somewhere nice in Birmingham you have to go through somewhere not so pleasant. Take walking from Ludgate Hill to the City – your options are the underpass or the red bridge? Neither is very attractive.
Anything else to add…
I wish we could stop referring to Birmingham as Brum. If we have to shorten it why can’t we call it B’ham or BHX – its less nasal and not all people in Birmingham have a ‘brummie’ accent.