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That was the year that was

By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

Frank McKenna looks back at some of the many Downtown highlights of 2022 in his last blog of the year.

2022 has been an incredible year for Downtown in Business, with some significant highlights among the 90-odd events that we hosted across the country during the past twelve months.

It is difficult to select the ‘stand out’ occasions, but clearly launching in two new cities, Wolverhampton and Newcastle, was significant for us. The DIB brand is now established in nine locations; Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Lancashire, Leeds, Cheshire, and London being the other seven.

This year also saw us host a Parliamentary lobby in Westminster in partnership with Manchester City Council. In July business leaders from the city descended on parliament to put the case for the HS2 project. The event attracted a number of MPs from all major parties, including the shadow transport minister, Louise Haigh. We’d have had ministers in the room too – but as this was on the eve of Boris Johnson’s resignation, they were otherwise engaged.

In Liverpool, we were delighted to host a series of events in the city with the Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, and other members of Labour’s front bench team. We also enjoyed the 20th annual ‘Livercool’ awards gala dinner, always a special night, but obviously a little more exciting as we celebrated two decades of ‘Livercool’.

Birmingham had a year to remember of course, as the West Midlands organised an amazing Commonwealth Games that did the country proud. DIB was fortunate enough to speak to the city council chief executive Deborah Cadman, and West Midlands mayor Andy Street prior to the games – and then afterwards we were able to reflect on the outstanding fortnight of sport at an event with the CEO of the Commonwealth Games Ian Reid.

A private dinner with small business minister Paul Scully MP was the pick of our London events, whilst in Lancashire we welcomed Sir Howard Bernstein to a Leaders Lunch to discuss the future of the county and the Northwest region. In Cheshire, another private dinner with husband and wife Tory team, Esther McVey MP and Philip Davies MP was hugely well received by our members.

DIB launched a new podcast series – ‘The Downtown Den’, and season one included conversations with Lord Michael Heseltine, and former footballer Phil Neville. Season two kicks off in mid-January, with female leaders the focus of the new series. Deborah Cadman, Bev Craig, and Natalie Atkinson are among the guests.

I hope you have enjoyed DIB this year. Without your support, none of this would be possible, so a sincere thank you for your continued support. Thanks too to all of our speakers – and the many brilliant hospitality venues we use to host our events programme.  

It only leaves me to wish you a very happy Christmas – and a successful New Year. I hope DIB can help your business meet its objectives in 2023.     

See you on the other side.

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