Birmingham, United Kingdom

From a medieval market town, Birmingham developed in metalworking, leather and wool. With a number of natural advantages, which have driven its growth in the past; its location in the centre of England and its place in the middle of a growing network of medieval routes; nearby coal and iron deposits, and good waterways providing power for water mills. The growth in the canals, the development of rail across the UK impacted strongly on Birmingham. In the early 1900’s Birmingham became the centre of Car production in the UK, with a number of Private companies (Rover, Morris, Jaguar, Land Rover) merging to form the British Leyland Motor Company. Birmingham’s skill force in the industry has kept the industry in the area: Jaguar Land Rover have a large presence. In 2016 the world’s largest automotive supply chain trade show was held in Birmingham’s large Exhibition Centre the NEC. The venue, its location and the exhibition show the importance of Birmingham today. The NEC, opened in 1976 is the UK’s top venue, hosting more than 500 events a year, it is by far the largest in the UK, with ample parking and excellent transport routes. Birmingham has three world class universities and other tertiary colleges, attracting students from around the world. There is cultural diversity; more than 40% of its population is non-white, British or otherwise. Transport routes remain excellent, with road, rail and air routes to national and international destinations. Its International Airport, easily accessible from the city, is the UK’s seventh busiest airport, with over 9 million passengers a year, and now served by Emirates A380’s to the Middle East. Birmingham has a diverse list of top employers, ranging from Transport Services (National Express), Supermarket Head offices (Sainsbury’s), Food and Confectionery, Business and Financial Services, as well as automobile industry, and metal working industries. Business and Financial services and tourism are the more important industries. 256,000 people live and work in Birmingham, and around 300,000 in the Greater Birmingham area. 50% of the population of Birmingham are qualified at NVQ 3 and above; these statistics indicate a qualified and mobile workforce in the City. With an important place in the UK traffic system, and the UK’s largest exhibition centre, with a still thriving automobile industry the future for Birmingham should be bright. It has a mobile and qualified and skilled population. Concerns of the effect of “Brexit”, largely in the automotive sector; however, there is little reason why the city should not prosper with ties to the rest of the world. The population connections with India and the Middle East should provide a solid backdrop against which trade and expertise can be transferred to those areas. The key universities offer attractive study and research centres, supported by a regional policy to develop research and led by Aston University. Research thrives in medicine, engineering and life and health sciences; the diverse structure of the city’s industry should provide a good spring board for future growth and further diversification.

Bristol, United Kingdom

Built on a significant industrial history, and powered by the early development of rail and shipping routes, Bristol grew with a divergency of industries, which continues today. Bristol remains a vibrant and active City. Essential to its status today as an administration centre for financial services. Its Central Station, Temple Meads, a link with Bristol’s past, was designed and built by Brunel in 1841. As in the past, Bristol is home to a divergent range of Industries; ranging from IT, which is increasing in the City, Heavy Industry, with Babcock and Airbus having large operations there; Financial Services , Transport and Distribution. Unemployment in the City is slightly below the national average. In 2008 Bristol was named as the UK’s first cycling city, followed in 2013 with it being placed in the top 10 of world cities for being bicycle friendly. This, together with excellent local and national bus and train routes makes the City easy to both live and work in. Whilst its central station, Temple-Mead’s offers good national connections, the northerly station on the busy London to Wales and the West motorway system, Bristol Parkway, provides easy commuting to and from Bristol across the City. Bristol has an airport, which serves national and international routes. It is serviced by large national and international discount and premium carriers. Thus Bristol has excellent travel links within and outside the UK. Served with two first class universities, Bristol attracts high level students across many disciplines; this will serve its future well, as good universities will attract good employers. With its excellent transport links to the whole of the UK, Bristol is increasingly chosen as a head-office location for companies moving out of London. Bristol has set its target as developing a low Carbon future by 2050, with a number of plans in operation; in this it will become increasingly cycle friendly and will seek to attract and develop renewable energies.

Cardiff, United Kingdom

Cardiff is a vibrant city, home for many large companies in many sectors; including Financial Services, Food, and Manufacturing. Manufacturing continues to develop North of Cardiff in the important valleys area, prestigious names being headquarter there; Aston Martin and TVR. Cardiff is the most densely populated area in the whole of Wales with around 11% of the population of Wales, seeing recent annual increases above that of Wales as a whole. Cardiff University, a campus of the University of Wales is around 30th in various rankings of UK universities; a member of the Russell Group of research-led universities, in 2014 it had two Nobel Laureates on its staff. It maintains close links with local business to provide a centre for research and development. The recently (1999) completed National Stadium, the “Millennium Stadium”, now the “Principality” Stadium, sponsored by a local Financial Services company, is a state of the art Stadium used for sporting and music events. With a capacity of 75.000 it is the second largest stadium in the world having a retractable roof. Now refurbished, Central Station sees 12 million passengers each year, serving as a hub both west to ferry Routes to Ireland and East to London and the rest of the UK. Together, the Millennium Centre, a large multi-halled arts centre and the St David’s Shopping Centre, only the 11th largest in the UK, but in the top two in the UK for visitors, attract many visitors. The development of Cardiff Bay Barrier scheme, with subsequent growth of the Waterside area, the largest Waterside development in Europe, has significant impact on Cardiff, making it both an attractive City to live and work in, attracting visitors and new income. In 2016 Cardiff was joint 3rd in best Cities in Europe, with Stockholm and Copenhagen. Cardiff was founded on excellent and developing transport links; as will be its future. Cardiff is in the top 10 in the UK for population growth, fast broadband access and growth in homes built. This growth is predicted to continue in the future. While Wales is considerably influenced by UK general trends, Cardiff provides the heartbeat for Wales, and the focus is on the city to ensure that it continues to drive through growth. In line with this, Electrification of the Valleys railways by 2017, and the lines west to Fishguard and Milford Haven, will support future growth. Some concerns of the “Brexit” decision, as Wales previously enjoyed considerable EU financial funding, are resolved; as the UK government will replace this at least until 2020. The region possesses workers skilled in manufacturing; the move of Aston Martin and TVR to the area shows the opportunities for continued inward investment. Recent growth in Financial Services in Cardiff adds skills to the local working population for incoming companies. The vision for the future is stated in the 2010-2020 strategic plan, much of which has already been completed. Infrastructure development is still underway, particularly electrification of the surrounding rail network, and improvements to local motorway network.

Glasgow, United Kingdom

Glasgow’s development was built on it being a market town, where leather production and wool were its foundations. Being coastal there was naturally commerce in fish, but linen and cotton spinning became increasing important. Glasgow has thrived since it was named European City of Culture in 1990; it has good art collections, restaurants, is home to the Scottish Ballet, Opera and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. It has two excellent universities, both of which have very high research involvement. Glasgow is the UK’s fourth largest City with 1.7 million people in the greater Glasgow area. It is in the top 30 largest cities in Europe. The work force is well educated, being second to London in the UK for level of graduates employed. The city has diversified industries, with a few sectors being significant; low carbon, financial and business services, life sciences, engineering, energy (particularly renewables) and education. Being a gateway to the highlights of Scotland tourism is important. 80% of the Whisky bottling for Scotland takes place in Glasgow. The future of Glasgow, more than many other UK cities, is troubled by uncertainties over Brexit. This is due to the high dependency on EU funding for the Universities, with many EU students there, and for research projects. Despite this the life sciences industry, hosting the Glasgow Bio-Corridor, and funded partially from GSK (a US company) should allow for continued growth and development. The Financial and Business services sector should also allow the city to continue growth. Today the city is 74th in the world ranking of financial centres; the sector employs 52,000 in large banks and institutions. This makes the private sector in Glasgow amongst the fastest growing in the UK. With a strong history in Engineering, and hosting many important engineering companies, (with around 10,000 professional engineers working in the City), supported by Universities with a strong engineering emphasis, there is no reason why Glasgow should not continue its growth based on a diverse but strong economy. The supply of talented staff can only be of benefit to the future. It is for the business leaders of the city to take these opportunities, and overcome the uncertainties that Brexit may have caused.

Manchester, United Kingdom

Built on cotton and silk weaving, with transport links developed on the water ways and later rail, Manchester was the work place of innovators such as Arkwright, who patenting the spinning and carding machine, and was actively involved in improving the textile industry. However the early 1900’s brought a decline in the traditional industry of cotton, as well as engineering, with competition from Leeds and the Midlands. In the early 1900’s Rolls Royce started production of their cars in the City. More recent history is notable for the growth of “Chinatown” since the 1970’s; sadly an IRA bomb in 1996 caused damage to life and property in 1996, but this gave rise the Trafford Shopping Centre a large indoor shopping centre, the second largest in the UK, attracting more than 35 million visitors a year. Today Manchester is placed situated in the second most populated urban area in the UK; it has benefited considerably from recent improvements and developments is Salford Quays, which has become a major centre for the BBC, and the Trafford Shopping Centre which brings many visitors from around the area to the city. Manchester continues to have an important role in the arts, with a top orchestra, the Lowry art exhibition, ballet and opera. Traffic connections to Manchester are excellent, both nationally and internationally. As a key centre of the South/North rail link to Scotland it is in reach of all the UK by rail. Manchester Airport is the second largest after London; it has links both within and outside the UK; it has recently been named best UK airport. Work is currently underway on new traffic routes across Manchester, currently difficult to travel. As the best airport for the area covered by the M62 Corridor, it is the first choice for flights outside Europe. Manchester’s mixed ethnic population and excellent transport links, place it as a good location for companies moving out of London. With an already excellent industrial infrastructure it should continue to be an important centre not just in the UK, but also in Europe.