The 2018 Black Country Business Festival ended this afternoon (4 May 2018) after two incredible weeks packed with a programme containing more than 100 business events.
It is the first time a Festival of this kind has been run in the Black Country. With so many events, a market reach of 50.6 million* and over 4,200* attendees – including a staggering 13 per cent* coming from outside the Black Country, the Festival has already become the region’s biggest business event.
Over the two weeks, the Black Country has experienced all sorts of events from conferences, seminars, plant tours, comedy nights, race days, and expos to workshops, demonstrations, showcases, networking sessions and debates – in a whole range of subjects comprising new and traditional industries.
Whatever the industry, size or status of business, there has been something in the Festival for everyone.
The Black Country Chamber of Commerce is the driving force behind the Business Festival - which will be run initially for three years with a view to becoming a permanent fixrure in the business calendar, thereafter.
Established for the first time in 2018, it was designed to bring the region together to enable the local business community to engage, share best practice and collaborate with each other on a completely new level. It also acts as a perfect way to showcase the outstanding innovation, culture and commerce of the area, to ultimately attract investment.
Reflecting on the successes in the first year, Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce (pictured left) said, “I am so proud of the way that the whole of the Black Country has got involved in the Festival. It’s been a mind-blowing fortnight that has exceeded all expectations.
“The Business Festival is one of our first initiatives to reinforce our new ambition to become more modern and easily accessible to local businesses, so they can access the support they need to thrive. It has been a great example of our business community coming together to champion the local area and we want to continue to work with businesses that understand their role in the local community, their supply chain and their responsibility to their workforce.
“The 122 registered events seamlessly reflected of the strengths of the Black Country’s colourful sectorial and economy, providing an unparalleled showcase of the region’s fantastic innovation, commerce and culture.
“This is a growing region that has seen massive investment in recent years. New industries have established themselves here and are growing and thriving. It really feels like we are witnessing a renaissance in the Black Country right now, and the region is catapulting onto the national radar as a prime location to invest, work and do business.
“The Chamber will be looking to build on everything that has happened in this year’s Festival and drive this forward in 2019.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority (pictured left), spoke at the opening event of the Festival on 23 April as well as Higgs and Sons’ ‘Diversity in the Black Country’ event on the very last day. He said, "The Festival has clearly been a tremendous success, not just in terms of in terms of numbers but also in terms of the profile it has given the Black Country.
"The Black Country business community stood up and shown what it is all about and really done itself proud."
Alister de Ternant, managing director of Associate Events, the company behind the management of the programme, said, “ For its first year, the Business Festival has been astounding. The enthusiasm we have experienced from the business community has been second-to-none.
“The Festival’s sponsors, partners and media partners have been incredible - as have the wider business community. and we are already looking forward to next year. But in order to keep the momentum of the Festival, it needs support to grow and to truly put the Black Country on the map. So if there are any businesses that are interested in getting involved, we would be really keen to hear from them sooner rather than later.”
The 2018 Black Country Business Festival is run in association with Associate Events and is been partnered by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and DY5 – Dudley’s Business & Innovation Enterprise Zone. In addition, it has been supported by a number of organisations which all understand its importance and relevance and have wanted to contribute to its success. Sponsors have been Cox & Plant and the Ramada Park Hall Hotel, and the Festival has been supported by the University of Wolverhampton, Talbots Law, Wolverhampton Racecourse, Casino 36, Sandwell Council and Nachural. Business Festival media partners have been Express & Star, Midlands in Business, Signal 107and Elonex.