Steve Brittan is the founder and managing director of BSA Machine Tools and the president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. We ask him to assess the city’s current business situation
Please introduce yourself?
My name is Steve Brittan, managing director of BSA Machine Tools Ltd. I am the president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group and I also work as a governor of Birmingham Metropolitan College.
What does your company do?
BSA Machine Tools Ltd is an engineering company which manufactures CNC lathes and single and multi-spindle lathes. We customise our products to meet our customers’ requirements and specifications.
Is Brum a good place to do business?
Birmingham is open for business. It is at the heart of the Midlands and is a great place to work. The planned extension to Birmingham Airport and HS2 rail links will further enhance Birmingham’s opportunities. The airport is situated within easy reach of the centre and there are good travel links into the city. I believe the HS2 project will increase trade to Birmingham and will help link it with cities and other manufacturing areas in the UK. Whereas the improvements to New Street station will ensure that Birmingham can meet the requirements of future commuter travel.
What are your biggest gripes with it?
Transport links should be improved as motorway links are always laboriously busy. BSA has overseas customers and when they are required to fly into London, a visit to our factory site in Birmingham can be a problem.
How do you feel your clients see the city
Our clients like the multicultural side of Birmingham and see it is a vibrant city. Birmingham is able to provide a wide range of leisure activities which encompass all social tastes, whether the arts, theatre or restaurants, as well as hotel accommodation. The old and the new mix well in the city, from the redevelopment of the city centre to maintaining the character of the more historical parts of the city.
Does Birmingham offer any particular advantages as a destination for business?
Geographically Birmingham is in a central position in the UK and is the heart of manufacturing in the Midlands. Birmingham is able to accommodate new business and constantly change to fit business needs and requirements. New technology companies, digital and IT companies are finding Birmingham a good place to do business. The universities can offer advice to businesses and the necessary personnel with skills that companies can tap into.
What should our priorities be as a city?
As a city we can make further improvements to our transport links. We should encourage small and large business to come to Birmingham and advertise our technical and educational establishment’s know-how. We have a young population as well as a more experienced skill-based population.
The one billion dollar question…
Improve the infrastructure; transport, road and rail links. High speed broadband needs to be available in all areas of Birmingham. We should invest in our educational establishments for the future to ensure high-tech industries have the skills which they need to maintain Birmingham as a place for industry and commerce.