Three days ago as I entered a rather impressive marquee I was greeted by hundreds of councillors, businessmen and influential individuals, all buzzing about the launch of the cities new procurement website: finditinbirmingham.com.
Based upon the massively successful finditinsandwell.com, the website aims to relocalise procurement by showcasing services offered by Birmingham based businesses, encouraging networking and providing ongoing support. In this way it is hoped to strengthen the regional economy as money recirculates in the area, creating local job and training opportunities.
The scale of the launch quite clearly demonstrated the Council’s dedication to the initiative, with Lead Councillor Mike Whitby making the opening speech. The need to revitalise the cities exports, redirect some of the councils £3.5billion public procurement budget and to expand the cities economy as a viable alternative to London formed key elements of Councillor Whitby’s speech. He concluded that Birmingham has the potential to become a world class supply chain possessing a rich variety of local jobs, skills and businesses.
Stuart Horton, project manager of finditinbirmingham.com, went on to mention the further benefits of relocalising the city’s business community, including potential CO2 and transport savings and the sustainability of forging face-to-face business relationships.
The last speech delivered by Tony Deep, owner of East End Foods, provided an inspirational account of the growth of a grassroots Birmingham business. Established in the 1960s and now a globally relevant company, East End Foods have recently started redeveloping the old HP sauce site in Aston. They are hoping to revitalise the area by building a new warehouse and cash and carry, with plans for a 14-storey hotel and a food technology centre also in the pipeline. The aim is to create local jobs and develop new skills, with Mr Deep cheerfully declaring ‘you can very much find me in Birmingham!’
The success and grandeur of the launch of finditinbirmingham.com left me feeling extremely optimistic about the projects potential. The site has already attracted 1500 members and hopes to increase this number to 5000 by next year. If successes are equal that of finditinsandwell.com, which now has 7000 members, and the City Council continue the same level of support and commitment then perhaps we are truly one step closer to a Localised West Midlands.