It’s that time of year when, festive drink in hand, we look back over the past twelve months and raise a glass to all the good things that Sandwell has had to celebrate.
And this year there was a lot to be happy about. Firstly, visitor numbers to the West Midlands are on the increase, according to the third annual Birmingham Economic Review. Produced by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and University of Birmingham’s City-Region Economic Development Institute, the report also highlighted a shift in perception of the West Midlands as an increasingly attractive place for investors and visitors.
In May, the Black Country Business Festival brought over a hundred free business events to the region, demonstrating our strengths, innovation, commerce, culture and investment potential to the rest of the world.
Throughout 2019 we published 28 #madeinsandwell Monday features showcasing success stories from our region, including a huge range of successful businesses as well as Black Country Women’s Aid, Sandwell’s gifted young athletes, Thin Lizzy star Phil Lynott and our wealth of south Asian restaurants. If you’d like us to feature your success in 2020, just fill out the form here.
We also published our fifth annual Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies Index in July. This year Direct Corporate Clothing Plc came top of the list, with a rise in turnover of 71.12 per cent. Collectively Sandwell’s top 50 firms for 2019 enjoy revenue of £2.44bn and employ over 11,400 people.
A number of Sandwell people and organisations took home accolades and awards in 2019. David Manners was made an Honorary Freeman of Sandwell for his positive contribution to the economy and community in our borough. Parpinder (Poppy) Dhatt won the national Asian Women of Achievement Public Service Award in recognition of her work in developing Smethwick-based SAFS, a groundbreaking organisation providing support services to Asian families with disabilities and overcoming language and cultural barriers. Hadley Group chairman Stewart Towe won the lifetime achievement award at the Nachural Summer Business Awards for the success of his manufacturing business and wider involvement in the Black Country economy.
The council itself was also recognised – yes, we are blowing our own trumpet! Sandwell Council’s Business Growth Team was shortlisted in two categories in the 2019 West Midlands Celebrating Construction Awards and shortlisted in the prestigious national GO Awards, for our innovative work in helping SMEs to collaborate on tenders and contracts. Jenna Langford, Sandwell Council’s Regeneration Manager, won the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Young Planner of the Year Award and Sandwell Council won the Best ‘Small Business Friendly’ Procurement Policy in the FSB (Birmingham, Black Country and Staffordshire) Local Authority ‘Small Business Friendly’ Awards, recognising the work we do to support SMEs to build procurement-driven supply chains. An independent Local Government Association review also praised Sandwell Council for making “significant progress” in many areas since the previous review a year earlier.
Sandwell residents also got to have a say in the future of the borough through a number of public consultations in 2019. Local people were canvassed for their input on the design for the new aquatic centre being built for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. There were also consultations on how business rates are spent, and on what development priorities should be in order to build a strong and inclusive economy for Sandwell.
So, as we top up our glasses to celebrate Sandwell’s great successes of 2019, we are more confident than ever that, looking forward, there’ll be even more good news to toast this time next year. Cheers!