Amongst all the doom, gloom and despondency of the past few months, including particularly depressing unemployment figures that were announced this week, 200 delegates from across the North West gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Liverpool, for the Downtown Business Conference on Monday to kick off Global Enterprise Week.
Of course there was talk of the difficulties and challenges that are being faced in both the private and public sectors. Inevitably, the Shadow Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves MP complained about the speed with which the coalition government is cutting public expenditure and called on a Plan ‘B’ to be adopted by the Chancellor.
Both Liverpool City Council Leader Joe Anderson and the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council Sir Howard Bernstein explained how tough they had found it to find the savings demanded from them by central government.
And, from the business community, expressions of dissatisfaction about a raft of issues, most notably red tape, bureaucracy and the HMRI!
But, despite all of this, most delegates left the conference on Monday evening with a spring in their step, having heard a series of presentations from senior decision makers, business leaders and entrepreneurs that proclaimed a ‘can do’ attitude.
The CEO of Philadelphia’s Business Improvement District (BID) Paul Levy was uplifting in his description of how his city had been transformed from a declining place to a thriving city through a series of effective though relatively simple initiatives.
Sir Howard and Joe Anderson outlined their plans to introduce business support and business friendly policies o ensure that Liverpool and Manchester do not suffer a recurrence of the worst ravages that hit both cities in the eighties. Entrepreneurs Steve Morgan, Tony Caldeira, Natalie Haywood, Gavin Wheeldon and Victoria Brown offered inspirational anecdotes from their own personal success stories. And even from the battered and bruised property sector, positivity from Vinci’s Colin Rankin and Chris Evans from Shepherd.
Nobody is kidding themselves that 2012 is going to be anything other than another tough year. But when you mix with, engage with and work with the type of peole who we got together on Monday, you cannot help but feel that the glass is half full.
YOU CAN READ A FULL REPORT ON THE CONFERNCE IN THE JANUARY 2012 ISSUE OF DOWNTOWN MAGAZINE DQ