Faced with the uncertainty of the coming months, it is more important than ever for businesses in Greater Birmingham to work together to overcome tough hurdles and seize opportunities, the annual meeting of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) was told today. 

Greg Lowson, in his first year as GBCC chairman following the retirement of David Waller, was speaking to members at the Edgbaston cricket stadium.

He said: “After the difficulty of the past few years – in which businesses have navigated the economic headwinds of Brexit and a devastating pandemic – I am proud that the Chamber has continued to provide invaluable support to firms across the city-region.

“Despite the economic challenges facing the country, it is extremely positive to see the Chamber’s total income increase 22 per cent on last year and generate an operating surplus of £475,000. Such impressive growth would not be possible without Team Chamber, who have remained committed to helping connect, support and grow local businesses regardless of the obstacles presented to them.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, this enables us to reinvest in the business to ensure that we continue to thrive whatever the economic climate. Greater Birmingham was thrust into the global spotlight this year as host of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“I could not be prouder of how the business community worked to welcome overseas visitors and showcase the very best of the city. I am looking forward to seeing how we can harness the collaborative spirit seen throughout the Games to establish an impressive legacy for years to come.”

Mr Lowson noted that the board was further strengthened with the appointments of Charlie Blakemore, Amardeep Gill, and Ruth Pipkin as non-executive directors. President Deb Leary said that international trade connections had been a core theme of the year to date, with delegations and officials from Serbia, Ukraine, Mexico, South Carolina, and Ohio all travelling to the Chamber to meet with herself, the team, and Chamber members.

She added: “A year has gone in a flash, and yet again so much has changed. A war in the Ukraine, rising energy costs, strikes, the death of the Queen, the cost-of-living crisis and ongoing upheavals with Government and the markets.

“However, we must find balance. Our businesses have shown the ultimate resilience and faith. They have continued to be creative and innovative to find their way through and this I know they will continue to do.” Henrietta Brealey, the GBCC’s chief executive, noted that for the business community, 2021/22 was another year of change, ending with the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions combined with the shock of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

She added: “2022/23 shows no sign of slowing down. We have seen three Prime Ministers and four Chancellors in just four months. Through this uncertain time, we will continue to support and champion our members and the interests of local business.”

A Birmingham businesswoman who has dedicated her life to serving others was honoured at the meeting of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC).

Dr Beverly Lindsay, who founded her own Dudley Road independent travel company in 1987, was presented with the 2022 President’s Medal by Deb Leary. She said: “I am delighted to award Beverly the 2022 President’s Medal in recognition of her outstanding contributions to Birmingham and the Jamaican community across more than 35 years.

“Beverly has remained committed to selflessly helping others, whilst keeping Diamond Travel running during a devastating pandemic. She has been a driving force behind the Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce since its inception, and we are deeply appreciative of her support as a member of the executive committee.”

Three businesses were recognised for their long-standing membership of the Chamber.  They were Webster and Horsfall (57 years), Incorporatewear (24 years) and Cleone Foods (20 years).