Visit to Chicago – November 2013

Representatives of Birmingham City Council, Birmingham City University, University of Birmingham and West Midlands Police visited Chicago in November 2013 to progress various elements of the current work programme agreed between the 2 cities.

 In essence engagement between Birmingham and Chicago is stronger now than at any point in the 30 years of the formal city to city relationship. Across a number of activities the 2 cities are working together to address common interests and challenges as a means of improving the provision of services or wider well-being of citizens. Amongst the issues addressed during the visit were:

City management

 Senior representatives of Birmingham City Council and City Hall Chicago discussed the various approaches to managing the resource gap between income and expenditure. Good practice and the potential for exchange of successful service delivery approaches was discussed as well as the various economic models of operation being used to minimise the financial downturn.

A separate meeting progressed the longstanding city to city engagement around social care with safeguarding being highlighted for future focus.


School improvement is of major importance to both cities. From discussions with the Director of Chicago Public Schools it was agreed to share approaches on school governance; school / business partnerships; engaging disadvantaged pupils and teaching and learning.

At the level of higher education Birmingham City University sought to develop their continuing partnership work with Roosevelt University and also undertook some preliminary discussions around Business School collaboration with DePaul University. The University of Birmingham also sought to progress it`s engagement with counterparts and their Institute of Local Government Studies also contributed to the debate around city management.

Migration and Social Cohesion

The Birmingham delegation was briefed on Mayor Emanuel`s recent launch of the Office of New Americans. With the objective of making Chicago the “world`s most friendly city to immigrants” an outline was given of how the Office would operate. Migrants from Mexico, China, Asia and other countries were identified as making valuable financial, business and cultural contributions to Chicago.


Chicago and West Midlands police discussed in detail their approaches to gun crime and security generally. Both police forces were now placing greater emphasis on crime prevention sooner than detection. Other issues discussed were open source intelligence gathering; restorative justice; multi- agency partnership and offender intervention.

Forum 48 / Urban Land Institute

Colleagues shared ideas and case studies around the differing approaches to the establishment of “Knowledge Cities”. Central to this concept was the coming together of  local government, business and academia to produce the most attractive city within which to work, learn and live.

 27 January 2014