Birmingham to ‘Kraft’ new relationships with Chicago

By on 20/10/2011 in News

A delegation of leading civic, business and education organisations from Birmingham will travel to sister city Chicago next week, where they will promote closer links and investment opportunities between the two cities.

Top of the agenda during the five-day trip (24-28 Oct) will be meetings between Council leader Mike Whitby and the senior management of new Cadbury's owners Kraft Foods. Issues to be discussed at this meeting will include the company's investment in Bournville, job creation and the potential for further growth at the site.

Alongside officials from Birmingham Airport, the delegation will also meet with one of the world's largest airlines, Chicago-based UNITED Airlines, and the Chicago Aviation Commissioner, to highlight the need for direct flights between the two cities to be re-introduced.

Additional meetings will be held with Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago.

Representatives from Business Birmingham, The University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University, will also visit the US city to promote Birmingham as a centre of business, investment and educational opportunity.

Cllr Whitby, said: “Birmingham enjoys a special relationship with Chicago. We have been twinned since 1993 and particularly with the investment of Kraft Foods in Bournville, continue to develop and strengthen our links with the city. The US is a prime target for our investment drive and promoting the opportunities for US companies to build on the success of Kraft's investment is key.”

Kraft has made Bournville the heart of its global chocolate R&D, recently unveiling plans to create a worldwide 'Centre of Excellence' at the Birmingham factory to drive new product development, new technologies and best practices for brands such as Dairy Milk, Flake and Creme Egg.

The US is the largest inward investor to Birmingham and the West Midlands, investing £2bn since 2003. Over 350 North American companies, including Microsoft, Motorola and Kraft Foods – which is headquartered in Chicago – provide employment for 60,000 people in the area.

In addition, the visit will enable the University of Birmingham to further strengthen its well-established ties with universities and arts and cultural organisations in the Chicago area.

Professor Malcolm Press, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham, commented:

“The University of Birmingham has spent the last two years building relationships with the world-leading universities in the greater Chicago area, which have involved academic exchanges in both directions and sharing of intelligence on managing universities in a globally competitive market against a backdrop of change and uncertainty.   Our engagement with academic partners in Chicago spans the breadth of our expertise, from research on heritage and culture; through resilience, cities and urban living; to psychology, health and exercise. “

Wouter Schuitemaker, Investment Director at Business Birmingham, the city's inward investment programme, said:

“The 'special' trade relationship between the US and UK, and Birmingham more specifically, is very much alive and well. The US is an established and important market for the Birmingham area and, given our relationship with Kraft and our sister city status, Chicago is a strong gateway into this market. It is vital that we understand the city's economy and that we have the relationships in place to access any opportunities and bring more investment and jobs to the Birmingham area.

“We will be meeting with a number of potential investors to promote the city's benefits as a European base. Our strengths in R&D, financial and business services are all of interest to this market and we will be showcasing the opportunities available to those looking to grow.”

The special US-UK trade relationship continues to grow. The US invested $9.37billion in the UK in 2010. This investment was made across 340 projects and created 32,450 jobs. Job creation by US companies in the UK is looking strong – results from the first two months of 2011 show a rise of 78% – almost doubling last year's performance. On this basis the number of jobs created would hit 58,000 by the end of the year – compared with 32,450 last year.

Last week Birmingham ranked in the top 20 'best city to locate a business' by Cushman & Wakefield's European Cities Monitor 2011 (18th). Birmingham is one of only three UK cities to feature in the survey's top 20. Birmingham was also 26th in terms of growth in investment among global cities – up by nearly 60% – the second highest growth rate of any UK city.


For more information please contact:

Simon Houltby, Birmingham City Council: 0121 303 3503

Rebecca Bannister, Business Birmingham - 0121 202 5112

Notes to Editors

Business Birmingham

Business Birmingham is the city's official inward investment programme, part of Marketing Birmingham's destination marketing strategy. For more information please visit or call 0121 202 5022.

Background information

US investment to the UK

  • A recent example of successful US investment in Birmingham is the Moorfield Hines deal - the biggest outside London last year.

    • In a deal worth just under £200m, Moorfield and Hines Global REIT partnered to buy five buildings at Birmingham's Brindleyplace office scheme.
    • The transaction is not only Birmingham's biggest ever office market investment but also one of the largest-ever regional office sales, with a yield of between 7% and 7.5%.
    • The largest commercial property deal done in 2010 outside London
    • Brindleyplace Limited Partnership sold the five prime office properties which include ground floor retail, restaurant and theatre space plus a multi-storey car park.
    • Moorfield and Hines plan to hold the assets for the medium term with Brindleyplace developer Argent continuing to manage the properties. Occupiers include BT, Regus, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Drivers Jonas Deloitte.
  • £11.7 billion Kraft takeover of Cadbury - creating 100  jobs at Bournville

    • Cadbury creating 100 new jobs at Bournville (as of February)
    • The US-owned firm announced two job creation programmes
    • Cadbury is recruiting 50 new “expert position” jobs at its research and development arm at Bournville while another 50 jobs are on the way to the factory's customer service and logistics department from April.
    • Kraft have decided to make the Birmingham factory the heart of its global chocolate R&D.
    • Kraft unveiled plans to create a worldwide 'Centre of Excellence' at Bournville, to drive new product development, new technologies and best practices for brands such as Dairy Milk, Flake and Creme Egg.

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