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Boomtown Brum: Central redevelopments could give economy £2.5 billion boost

9 March 2015 - Neil Elkes, Birmingham Mail

With several large-scale redevelopments due to complete in 2015,  Birmingham city centre could see a boon to it’s economy worth around £2.5 billion with the creation of thousands of new jobs.

As well as the Grand Central shopping centre, the Midland Metro extension is set to open this year, boosting talk of an unprecedented economic boom over the next few years, aided by HS2, the Paradise, Southern Gateway and Curzon Street developments.

At the outset the reopening of the station and shopping centre were expected to create 10,000 jobs and boost the city economy by £2.3 billion per year. But combined with other retail and business developments this figure is likely to be much higher now, with the John Lewis store already hiring 1,000 staff.

Among those eagerly awaiting the completion of work are city centre shop owners and businesses.

Steve Hewlett, manager for Retail Birmingham, which represents traders, said: “It’s a hugely exciting time for the city centre with nearly £1 billion worth of investment coming to fruition during 2015.

“The redevelopment of New Street Station, Midland Metro Extension, Grand Central Shopping Centre and the new Mailbox will provide a huge boost to the retail sector, bringing a host of new retail names to the city attracting millions of shoppers.

“With John Lewis opening in September creating over 650 new jobs, a refurbished Selfridges and a brand new Harvey Nichols, Birmingham will be the only city in the UK outside of London with all five major department stores, firmly establishing the city’s reputation as a fabulous retail destination.”

It was always thought that the old grubby New Street put off visitors and investors arriving from London, so businesses too are looking forward to a brilliant new station.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce spokesman John Lamb said: “First impressions count and this is going to be a massive improvement to welcome people when they arrive. Along with the Metro it will provide a much better experience for visitors and will give the whole City Centre area a huge