From Sexy Networking to Sobriety Networking
Congratulations to Downtown in Business on its 20th anniversary.
Big Frank arrived in my office at the North West Regional Development Agency 20 years ago to pitch a proposal for support for the “new and different, “up and at it” business networking club. He was persuasive and the new fledging Downtown received support.
At the time, there was little supporting infrastructure for “start-up” and SMEs and they are the cornerstone of the continuing renaissance of the North West economy.
Initially in Liverpool and Preston we all joined Frank’s discussion forums, sexy networking events and “no tie events” to discuss new emerging business ideas and trends. This was the time of the dot.com era and none of us could have foreseen the growth in online and the digital business sector.
Downtown also helped via its power to shape some big decisions which have changed the whole of the profile and performance of our regional economy over the past few years.
The arrival of the BBC into Salford, the development of the Liverpool Arena and the implementation of new Mayors for Greater Manchester and Merseyside were helped with Downtown’s influence and involvement.
The relaxed, easy conversations and discussions facilitated by Downtown were valued by businesses and they had previously often been put off by starchy “establishment” subscription based business organisations
The last 20 years have been a mixture of serious policy debate and fun. We are now properly and understandably in more politically correct times and the ties are back on and we must be more careful about being “sexy”. Downtown which now operates on a nationwide basis adds great value to business support, intelligence and growth. I have been pleased to be on the ride from day one and don’t want to get off. It has had a tremendous impact on public, political and economic policy.
Thanks Frank and the team.
Love you all – (with or without my tie)
Professor Steven Broomhead, MBE
Chief Executive Warrington Borough Council and former Chief Executive of the North West Regional Development Agency (2003-2011)