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10 Mar 2020 - 3 minutes

How Birmingham became a global city

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Birmingham is one of the UK’s most vibrant and innovative cities. A rich history and a determined, can-do attitude have combined to create something special. Whether you want amazing festivals, incredible food and drink, unique attractions or anything else – Birmingham is the place to be.

Here is the story of how Birmingham became a global city…

The city that was too big

Birmingham was seen as a problem by some prominent figures in the government and media in the 1960s. Put simply, they thought the city was too successful. It created too many jobs; too many people lived there; even more wanted to move there in the future from other parts of the country.

Average wages were higher than in the capital, and the now-defunct Statist magazine said that Birmingham underpinned the whole UK economy.

Unfortunately, that was unacceptable for a London-centric government. Rather than nurture the city and its people, Birmingham was forced to share its industries and jobs across other regions – temporarily stalling the city’s progress.

A short-lived decline…

What followed was a transition period as Birmingham lost its status as the strategic heart of Britain and the dominant automobile industries declined and moved some operations elsewhere. Job losses and economic losses followed – but that was not the end of the story for Birmingham.

Many of the things that made Birmingham appealing in the 1960s remained unchanged. A central location, impressive transport infrastructure, highly skilled population and lower costs than London meant it was only a matter of time until the city rose again.

…and a meteoric rise

These days, Birmingham is changing fast. The last decade has seen industry returning to the city – although this time, it is modern financial and services alternatives. Companies like HSBC and Deutsche Bank have moved hundreds of staff to the city centre, and PwC rank it as the sixth best city in Europe for investment.

Birmingham has become one of the UK’s premier technology and manufacturing hubs alongside London and Manchester, and it has been said that a job is created in the city every 10 minutes.

Outstanding employment opportunities, more Michelin star restaurants than any UK city outside London and a wealth of hidden gems – what’s not to love?

HS2 and the Big City Plan

Building on the city’s already impressive transport network, the HS2 high-speed rail network will further elevate Birmingham’s status as a key UK and global city. Journey times to London and Manchester will be hugely reduced, promoting business and tourism on a new scale.

Alongside this, the Big City Plan is set to transform Birmingham city centre with 65,000 sqm of new and improved public spaces, 28 km of enhanced walking and cycling routes and funding the city’s heritage and cultural assets. With all that going on, it’s no surprise that more people than ever are leaving London to move to Birmingham.

Commonwealth Games 2022

Also coming up are the 2022 Commonwealth Games which will be hosted in Birmingham. This two week festival of sport is a coming of age for the city as a 21st century global destination.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will embrace what makes Birmingham special to inspire its communities and engage with the rest of the world.

A city of the future

With a booming economy, huge cultural events on the horizon and a city centre which is being transformed, Birmingham is an ideal 21st century global city and destined for great things in the future.

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