Over the past week I have represented the Chamber at a wide range of national, regional and local meetings. The diversity of meetings I attend as Chief Executive shows how valued the Chamber is as the voice of business in Greater Manchester and beyond.
Last week I met David Frost, Director General of British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Philip Rutnam, Director General of Business and Skills at the Department For Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). This was a follow-up to a previous meeting to discuss how the BCC can help BIS focus on skills and how this can support the work of the Local Enterprise Partnerships.
I was also pleased to attend the Chamber’s Oldham Local Council along with fellow Board member and Past President Peter Heginbotham OBE and welcome Craig Dean as the new Oldham President. I’d like to thank Paul Roberts for his service as President. He is a highly respected businessman and has done great work for the Chamber and the local business community in his modest but very determined way. I look forward to working with Craig Dean, who is a very young, dynamic businessman, whose Web Applications business is a great success story. These are exciting times for the Oldham Council and I want to see the influence of the Council grow.
Thursday saw me attending my first board meeting of British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) following my recent appointment to the Board. I want to play a very active part in shaping the future of the BCC and the Chamber network. We have a diverse Chamber network and I want to build on that and ensure that Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is at the very centre of influence.
On Monday, Chris Fletcher and I met Jon Corner, Director for MediaCityUK at the University of Salford, as this exciting development gathers pace. Each week seems to bring fresh news of MediaCityUK’s rapid growth. Last week saw history being made with the first ever live television broadcast from the brand new studio complex. This came hot on the heels of the announcement that 100 apprenticeship places would be provided at the site by BBC North. Jon and I already know each other and we’re both looking forward to working together. The university’s investment here is substantial and cutting edge. The new building is a powerful statement of the university’s ambition to be at the centre of media and digital education and development.
Yesterday I attended the national conference on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as a speaker at one of the workshops “Realising Every Place’s Potential”. My contribution seemed to be well-received and there was real interest in how the Greater Manchester LEP is evolving and how it fits with our existing structures. We are seen as the leaders and innovators here in Greater Manchester which means we exert real influence. The conference came just days after it was announced that Chamber director Keith Johnston had been appointed as one of the private sector members of the LEP. The Chamber congratulates Keith on his appointment and will be working closely with the LEP to make sure the voice of our Greater Manchester members is heard.
The highlight of this week of course is tomorrow’s Annual Dinner. I know everyone is looking forward to hearing from our guest speaker Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable. He has agreed to take part in a Question & Answer session during the dinner which will be a unique opportunity for businesses to put their questions directly to a leading member of the Coalition Government. Prior to the dinner he will also be taking part in a Chamber round table event with a group of business leaders.
Baroness Bev Hughes, will also be hosting a table of local MPs at the dinner which will strengthen the Chamber’s links with our local politicians. Bev is playing a vital role in developing our strategy for influencing key individuals in relation to Action For Business, our policy priorities. The trick is to influence the right people at an early stage before the formal consultation process begins.