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Preston College
Frank McKenna - Chief Executive - Downtown in Business

Frank McKenna
Chief Executive - Downtown in Business

Frank established the Downtown brand ten years ago in Liverpool, and has since taken the organisation to Lancashire, Manchester and Leeds. Downtown represents over 800 member companies across the region. Prior to starting his own business, Frank was a politician, serving as a Parliamentary Assistant; Leader of the North West regional Assembly, and Deputy Leader of Lancashire County Council, and was described at the time as ‘the most powerful politician in the North West’.

Frank McKenna: Lancashire has the ‘feel-good’ factor

Guest Post - Monday, 4th November, 2013

The energy, dynamism and confidence that was evident from Downtown’s Lancashire Business GROWTH Conference at the end of October provides our county with a fantastic platform to progress as we come out of a deep, long recession and head into 2014.

Around one hundred delegates packed into the fabulous Brockholes nature reserve to hear from some top speakers about sales techniques, marketing and the comprehensive BOOST business support programme that has been recently launched by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

However, the most impressive thing about the half day event was the delegates themselves. Great though all the contributors were, it was the buzz created by the business leaders and entrepreneur’s present, along with their challenging and constructive remarks that made the day special.

I have often said that Lancashire is the hidden gem of the North West, and the range of businesses and products showcased at this gathering more than proved it.

From the traditional manufacturing and professional services through to an ever increasing innovative creative sector, there was no shortage of business talent in the room. It was with some satisfaction that many of the messages they have been articulating for several years now appear to have been taken on board not only by the LEP but by the county’s leading educational establishments too.

By working in partnership, the private and public sector can progress Lancashire’s economy at a faster pace, and it was clear from presentations made by Lis Smith (Preston’s College), John Lonsdale (UCLan) and Andy Walker (Lancashire County Council) that they have put together a range of services that have genuinely taken account of the views of the business community.

This can only assist those with high growth ambitions, and the feeling within the room was that there is an environment within the world of commerce in Lancashire that can really prosper in the next twelve months and beyond.

One note of doubt remains around the ability of our politicians to put aside parochial issues for the more strategic benefit of the county. In Ruth Connor, it is evident that we have a strong leader in charge of the ‘marketing Lancashire’ agenda. She effectively stated to the conference her determination to bring cohesion and co-operation into this crucial area of work. That she must be supported by senior council officials and members is not doubted. The same co-ordination must also be applied to the economic development and regeneration arenas.

Lancashire’s private sector is feeling good. They will not forgive easily local politicians who stand in the way of future progress.


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