The inaugural Black Country Business Festival got underway this morning (23 April) with a prestigious opening event at the Black Country Living Museum, attended by over 100 people.
Headline speakers, including Andrew Griffiths, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, outlined the importance of the Business Festival to the local economy and the region, as a means of supporting competitiveness and business growth.
The audience were inspired to hear that the Black Country is a renewed economy that is a prime place to live, work and invest and that the Business Festival will play a key part in promoting the continued collaborative success of the region.
Andy Street (left) said, “The Black Country Business Festival is a fantastic opportunity to showcase everything that is great about business in this part of the West Midlands. As a centre of manufacturing and engineering, the role of the Black Country in our regional economy cannot be understated and anything that showcases the excellence here is to be encouraged. I’m delighted to have been able to play my part in this event and hope the rest of it is as successful as the start.”
The top line-up of presenters at the opening, all eager to be involved in the launch of the biggest business event in the region, included Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce; Trevor Leeks, operations director at Jaguar Land Rover; Andrew Lovett, chief executive of the Black Country Living Museum; Andy Cliffe, chief executive of Midlands Expressway (M6 Toll); Jatinder Sharma, principal and chief executive of Walsall College; and Liz Blakemore, community affairs officer at AF Blakemore & Son. The event was compered by Dawn Owen, director of BodyKraft.
The Business Festival was initi
ated by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce to bring the region together and enable the local business community to engage, share best practice and collaborate with each other on a completely new level.
With 122 events in the programme and an anticipated market reach of 5 million, the Festival has already become the biggest business event in the region. Over 5,000 people are predicted to attend over the fortnight with around 15 per cent of these expected to come from outside the region.
Corin Crane, chief executive, said “In its first year, the Business Festival is really turning heads, attracting attention nationally and regionally as well as locally – and rightly so! The Black Country is witnessing a real re-surgence with a renewed economy.
“From manufacturing to transport infrastructure, education to culture, this is a dynamic and enterprising area that is ripe with unique investment opportunities, rich with resources and open to development. But above all, what makes the Black Country so special is its people, who have an unyielding positivity and can-do attitude.
“With the immense support for the Festival that we have seen from our businesses and communities, the Black Country is ready to showcase its superb assets, innovation, commerce, opportunities and vibrant culture to a local, regional and national audience.”
The Business Festival contains events of all descriptions from workshops, seminars, networking events and trade shows to exclusive tours, round table debates and speed networking events. These range across nine key sectors including Advanced Manufacturing; Automotive; Creative Industries; Education; Property, Infrastructure and Construction; Professional Business Support, Communications and Marketing; Retail, Tourism and Hospitality and Transport and Logistics.
Whatever the industry, size or status of business, there will be something in the Business Festival that will appeal to everyone.
Where available, tickets to events over the next two weeks, can still be booked via the website www.blackcountrybusinessfestival.com