National Express and Birmingham City Council stood proudly shoulder to shoulder last week at the announcement of an internship programme between Chicago and Birmingham. The announcement made at the British Consulate in Chicago, is significant as it marks a reinvigoration of the Birmingham Sister City relationship. Focusing initially on the City Council/ Chicago City Hall and National Express offices in Birmingham and Chicago, it is expected to grow and encompass other private sector partners with offices co-located in Birmingham and Chicago. Certainly, internships as a concept are not new, but this is the first time Birmingham and Chicago have engaged in such a venture. The benefit for the Council will be to learn how the Chicago Administration is delivering more efficient and effective management of the city administration in a reality of ever decreasing resources in the public sector, not unlike the situation here. National Express, which is co-headquartered in Birmingham and Chicago, is seeking to share business models, experience and knowledge through the programme.
The initiative has the full backing of the Sister City Committee in both Birmingham and Chicago. The committees will play a major part in developing the Council to Council exchanges and facilitating links with the relevant businesses. A number of meetings have been arranged with a number of businesses this week in Chicago to extend the initiative.