Businesses in the heart of Coventry have pledged to be at the heart of the city’s bid to be crowned UK City of Culture 2021.Shopping centres, restaurants and professional services firms based in the city centre have lent their support to the bid through sponsorship and financial investment to become members of the 2021 Club – a network of businesses backing the bid for Coventry to be UK City of Culture in 2021.

Among the eight-strong line-up are Coventry Business Improvement District, McDonalds, Lower Precinct Shopping Centre, West Orchards, law firm Band Hatton Button, residential property agents Shortland Horne, architecture firm IDP, and property company Barberry Developments – which is developing the new £73m shopping and student accommodation complex on the site of the Royal Mail sorting office.

If Coventry is successful in winning the title, it would bring a major economic uplift to the city in the lead-up to and during the year – which Trish Willetts, manager of the Coventry Business Improvement District, said will be of huge value to the city centre.“We are thrilled by the level of support that has been thrown behind the City of Culture bid by city centre businesses – who all recognise what a fantastic opportunity it is for Coventry to showcase everything from theatre to museums it offers to visitors,” she said.

“And right at the heart of this work is the city centre. Home to several theatres, museums and numerous arts groups as well as a historic cathedral in a stunning setting, there is a real community that is working collaboratively to create exciting work and put Coventry on the map.

“They are all excited about the bid, and we are already seeing the benefits.

“There’s been a real injection of enthusiasm and positivity not only within the arts scene but across the entire business community and public – which needless to say can and will have a great impact on the local economy.

“Coventry would be a very deserving winner of UK City of Culture, so we are delighted to be a part of the drive to win the title.”

A number of city centre groups have already been profiled as part of the work to showcase culture in the city, including the Belgrade, Theatre Absolute, and arts company and social enterprise EGO Performance.

Laura McMillan, manager of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “More than 80 per cent of the people of Coventry came out in support of the bid for UK City of Culture 2021 when we announced we would be bidding. As well as public support, business support is vital too.

“To therefore receive the backing of so many leading companies is testament to the benefits that businesses can see it bringing to Coventry.”

Coventry City Council, The University of Warwick, and Coventry University are all Principal Partners of the bid and are providing significant support. The Ricoh Arena is bid sponsor while Jaguar Land Rover, Friargate, Coventry Building Society, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and CEF (City Electrical Factors) are all bid event sponsors.

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