Yesterday we had the first meeting of The Gathering – seven people meeting in, appropriately, an old cotton mill: we are seeking to seed new enterprise in the great NW industrial heartlands.
We decided over a strictly observed single hour that our shared priorities lay around access to capital, skills training and employability, expert labour access and exchange, network expansion, strategic vision and export focus.
The other first members can remain anonymous or comment in public as they feel fit: you see, we’re not window dressing and don’t have to justify ourselves with manifestos and position papers and an endless rat-a-tat-tat of co-ordinated press publicity.
We’re not paid by the public purse. We are businesspeople. What counts for us is outputs.
The Gathering is for hi tech enterprise in the NW. We have set it up because each of us thinks it is a good idea. Each individual may well have some individual reasons – these are mine:
- There is no longer a Regional Development capability. Many think that what was there was dysfunctional and bloated. But that doesn’t obviate the need for something.
- The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are not working in this region. Many people think that they cannot work, including quite a few people who are actually on them.
- There are networking groups but they offer different things: they are not connected to the finer grained demands of sector-specific enterprise growth.
- The state and public sectors operate under the fallacy that there is a “business community”, somehow coherent across multiple sectors and geographies, and somehow easily and wholly accessible.
- There cannot be more appropriately positioned people to guide their own enterprise support than cohorts of passionate people who are growing enterprises.
- Membership organisations have generally become too removed from the concerns of growing enterprises and do not contain the specific knowledge and expertise to be significantly effective in such support (although they may well perform other useful roles).
- We do not live in an “enterprise society” and we desperately need mechanisms for expert knowledge sharing and expert knowledge leverage.
- So, that’s The Gathering. I’ll never share names or details – those kinds of things are, literally, our business. But I am sharing the idea of this model and will issue occasional updates because I think there is great mileage in this model and some of you may consider establishing similar initiatives in your own image.
This isn’t a press release. The Gathering doesn’t have an authority structure which issues such things. This is a personal statement of intent, in the full realisation that my own efforts are much greater when situated and leveraged amongst peer groups, all of them then made much greater than the sum of their parts.