The closing ceremony was held yesterday in the Gaslight Cinema at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.
Black Country Chamber of Commerce chief executive Corin Crane said the second edition of the festival had been “absolutely incredible” and its reach had now spread out beyond the region.
“The two weeks were packed with cool stuff. The year two focus has been all about the quality of the events,” he explained.
He said that the plan was to keep the momentum going and step up another level in 2020 including putting on more cultural events to show people what the Black Country was all about and focusing on business that innovate.
The award for most creative event went to Black Country comedian Doreen, alias Gill Jordan, for her Barry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce, which was held at the Mount Hotel in Wolverhampton and looked at using humour in business.
The University of Wolverhampton won the award for most engaged organisation with Black Country Housing Group ‘s A Richer Source of Talent event, which aimed to show the employable skills of ex-forces personnel, winning the best social impact award.
Alister de Ternant, managing director of Associate Events, which ran the festival with the chamber, said 23 per cent of those attending event had come from outside the Midlands and 1,041 businesses had engaged with the festival. A survey of people attending found 98 per cent rated the festival ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and 87 per cent felt the festival had a positive impact on them of their business.
The festival had a marketing reach of nearly 60 million and also generated 301,944 social media impressions. It maintained it status as the largest business event in the region.
“It has pulled the local area together with one unified voice,” added Mr de Ternant.
Mr Crane said: “From the chamber’s perspective, the festival is doing everything we wanted it to and more. So much so, we’ve already set the dates for 2020: Monday, May 11 to Friday,May 22 and we want everyone to put it in their diaries now and get thinking about how they can get involved.”
One way to become an integral part of thefestival is through partnering or sponsoring. This year’s headline partner has been on-line retailer, eBay, which launched its first Retail Revival scheme in Wolverhampton in November to help local retailers to start trading online to complement their existing shops.
Rob Hattrell , vice president at eBay UK, said: “The past two weeks of the Black Country Business Festival have been fantastic. It’s been a truly enlightening event that’s been great for local entrepreneurs and businesses in the region.
“During the Festival, eBay opened the doors to its first ever UK concept store in Wolverhampton, where we’ve been showcasing the products of some of the brilliant local sellers participating in our Retail Revival programme. eBay takes great pride in nurturing local businesses and the pop-up ‘Home Grown by Wolverhampton’ gives visitors the ability to connect and learn more about their local retailers, whilst demonstrating the positive impact the programme has already had in helping these businesses flourish. It’s open until the 6th June and I encourage everyone to visit and show their support.
“We’ve loved partnering with this thriving region and are excited to build on this success and to see what we can achieve over the next six months.”
Other partners have included: DY5 – Dudley’s Business and Innovation Enterprise Zone, Talbots Law, the University of Wolverhampton, Birmingham Airport, Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Black Country Growth Hub.
Sponsors have been Casino 36 and M6 Toll. Supporters were Wolverhampton Racecourse; accountancy firm, Crowe; Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Think Sandwell, Gecko Programmes and Walsall Council. Media partners have been Signal 107, the Express and Star, outdoor media experts, Elonex and Infonote Datasystems.