Why We’re Moths to Manchester’s Flame

Saturday, 6th May 2017

Marketing communications agency Big Partnership held a senior networking lunch recently to mark its first anniversary in Manchester – welcoming Mike Blackburn, chair of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, as a guest speaker. Head of North West Sarah Lawless shares a few thoughts from the event.

After only a year in Manchester, we’re a little bit in love. We feel like the city has cast a spell on us – but apparently we’re not alone.

Around 20 clients and contacts of Big Partnership, which already has 100 staff in five offices in Scotland, gathered at the Lowry Hotel on May 3 for a spot of lunch and to hear some of Mike’s not-inconsiderable insight from his time as a leading figure in Manchester’s economic growth.

His opening remarks, highlighted that – as an adopted Mancunian himself – the city has a compelling effect on anyone who spends time living or work here. As he put it: “Once Manchester has its hooks into you, it’s hard to get away.”

As chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, as well as his day job as North West regional director for BT, Mike is in a good place to talk about what makes Manchester such a rewarding place to live and work.

One of his anecdotes which really struck a chord with us was the story of the peppered moth – a species which reportedly evolved its ‘peppered’ markings to turn black, to be less visible against the dark background created by the sooty mills of the North in the 19th century. By 1895, 95% of peppered moths in Manchester were black.

After the Clean Air Act in 1956, the black and white variant of the moth became more prominent again, and more able to camouflage itself against the colours of nature.

Amazing story, and a nice metaphor for Mike’s take on Manchester’s success to date. When the city has faced an obstacle, it’s been able to find a way around it and continued to grow and prosper.

A massive thank you to Mike for agreeing to join us, and to everyone who attended on the day. A special thank you also to everyone at the Lowry Hotel for looking after us all so well.