Over the past couple of months Downtown has hosted hugely successful business awards events in Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool.
Every gala dinner has been a sell out. The response to the on line polls that we run were busier than ever. The winners and nominees were absolute quality.
In terms of the day to day stuff that Downtown does as an organisation, awards dinners may be seen as the fluffier end of the business – but they are no less important for that.
Throughout the year we work hard to provide B2B introductions that enable businesses to grow through sales and improving their connections across the business community. This work has led to literally hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of business being done across our network.
In addition, we provide the private sector with a genuinely independent voice on issues that matter to them, whether it is the way our city regions are governed, through to what type of business support initiatives ought to be offered.
On the strategic agenda we have discussed and debated governance structures, the UK’s future within the EU, transport and digital infrastructure, business finance, regeneration and HS2.
For business development purposes, our members have had the opportunity to hear from leading entrepreneurs and business gurus such as Deborah Leary, Andrew Rosenfeld, Michael Finnigan, Emma Jones, Ajaz Ahmed and Andy Bounds.
We have facilitated direct engagement with the public sector with key decision makers regularly addressing Downtown forums, with contributions from the city leaders and chief executives from Liverpool, Lancashire, Manchester and Leeds; plus regular meeting with government ministers and shadow ministers.
Indeed, through the course of the year, we have hosted over 120 events – and less than a dozen of them have been awards events, or indeed ‘sexy networking’.
But awards, sexy networking, playing hard and celebrating success are all as equally important as those more obviously serious elements of what we are about.
Because if you can’t let your hair down and have a good time; if you can’t say a big ‘well done’ to the business leaders and entrepreneurs who have kept going and excelled through the toughest recession we have known; and if we just did the lobbying, straight business deals and politics, Downtown would not include that vital ingredient that marks us out from the crowd – FUN.
Footnote: A great comment from leading entrepreneur Andrew Rosenfeld, who spoke at our Liverpool conference yesterday. In the UK we are too quick to write off those who fail in business. In the States, they see failure as part of the entrepreneurial journey. He’s not the first one to point this negative British attitude out, but he is the first one who has made the statement having sold a company for £600million!