As the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve 2019, it was hard to imagine what lay ahead in the year to come.
At that time, covid-19 was largely unknown outside of China but it has come to dominate every single aspect of our lives over the past 12 months.
While it dominated the news, there were plenty of other key events happening across the business community in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.
In this four-part review of the year, we take a look at some of the big stories which have made the headlines during the first quarter of 2020, starting with the news that telecoms giant BT was bringing up to 4,000 staff to Birmingham.
The company struck a 20-year deal for 283,000 sq ft of office space across 12 of Three Snowhill’s 17 floors with staff beginning the relocation early next year.
The company is carrying out a long-running project to consolidate around 270 UK offices in 30 regional hubs and Birmingham was chosen as one of eight initial locations for one of them.
The operator of what will be one of Birmingham’s highest restaurants was revealed in January.
D&D London marked its debut in the Midlands by agreeing a deal to open a new venue 24 floors above the city centre at 103 Colmore Row alongside a ground-floor cocktail bar and café with outdoor terrace.
Founded in 2006, the company has a portfolio of more than 40 venues based mainly in London as well as in Manchester, Leeds, Paris and New York.
An extension of the West Midlands Metro network which will connect Birmingham city centre with the new HS2 station was approved.
Transport Secretary Grant Schapps handed the green light to the one-mile section of track which will run between the city centre, HS2 in Curzon Street and Digbeth via four new stops.
The permission has been granted following an inquiry held by the Planning Inspectorate which Transport for West Midlands said recognised “the huge benefits” of the Eastside extension.
Following what had become a bit of a saga after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in summer 2019, the first two phases of HS2 were finally given the Cabinet’s seal of approval.
The PM confirmed phase one, between Birmingham and London, and phase 2a, between Birmingham and Crewe, would go ahead.
However, phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester and Birmingham to the East Midlands and Yorkshire, will come under a review designed to make sure it offers value for money and could lead to changes to the proposed route and stations.
A historic former factory in the Black Country is to undergo a £25 million regeneration.
Apartments, retail space and a conference facility, along with hundreds of new jobs, are all set to be created as part of the project at the former Chance Brothers Glassworks, in Smethwick.
The grade II listed site, which is visible from the M5, closed in 1981 and employed 3,500 people at its peak.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games was never far from the headlines this year and the project came under fire over escalating budgets when Birmingham City Council was told to stop “throwing money away” after the cost of the athletes’ village spiralled.
A review was launched into the options to deliver the Perry Barr-based accommodation for 6,500 athletes and officials during the 2022 showpiece event.
In August, the village hit the buffers after it was decided to house athletes and officials at University of Birmingham, University of Warwick and the NEC because of the impact of delays caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The stark reality of the coronavirus crisis took hold when Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent the country into a full lockdown on March 23.
Birmingham had already started to see the effects the week prior, with pubs shutting in the early evening, cafés running a takeaway only service and the Bullring almost deserted in the days leading up to the PM’s announcement.
But there were still positives to be found, such as these businesses which were tackling the coronavirus crisis head on.
Plans were lodged to build two new railway stations in the Black Country.
West Midlands Combined Authority is leading the project for the stations in Darlaston and Willenhall which will be on the Walsall to Wolverhampton line.
The new stations, which were granted planning permission in October, will have improved connections to Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham New Street.
Completing this round up of the first three months of 2020 is residential developer Moda Living which submitted plans to regenerate one of the city’s most maligned brownfield sites.
Ludgate Hill Car Park, long since known as the ‘bomb site’, was the subject of new proposals to build more than 722 apartments, commercial space and other amenities in a range of buildings reaching up to 39 storeys.
The planning application received city council approval in November.