This historic building has been at the centre of my thoughts this week for two completely different reasons.
The discovery of the bones of Good King Richard is inevitably linked to the story of the Princes in the Tower. There is no proof Richard killed them by the way. Instead the king should be remembered for being a damn good governor of the North of England. We could do with him now. However I must remember this is principally a business blog in the present time.
Even with that in mind, the Tower of London loomed up this week because the Liverpool Embassy in London is located near the Tower. Liverpool in London, to give it its more correct title, is a project to give entrepreneurs from the city a base to work from and to signal a confident Liverpool open for business.
It opened its doors in Royal Mint Court two years ago and the original backers of the project could have been heading for the Tower if some of the critics had been proved right. A gimmick that won’t last would be a polite way of summing up the reaction of the sceptical.
In 2011 the inspiration for the idea came from Guy Wallis a senior partner in the Liverpool offices of the business law firm DWF. It was backed by our own Frank McKenna and Joe Anderson, the leader of Liverpool Council.
Two years on the project has generated £1m additional sales for Liverpool companies, and attracted £20m of new investment. Those are the hard figures but it is in the intangible networking opportunities that the project has justified its funding by the council and private sector. £58 pounds return for every £1 invested according to its backers
The ringmaster is Chris Hayes, the Liverpool in London manager. He arranges quarterly networking events, dinners and hundreds of one to one meetings between Liverpool business people and potential clients in London. You can use the facilities free for a day but Chris Hayes wants people to sign up to the business club thereafter.
The private sector have stepped up to a limited extent to back Liverpool in London but it is still a 70/30 split in favour of the city council. As we know the authority is facing mega financial pressures and it would be handy if more firms came on board. That said Mayor Joe Anderson was in upbeat mood when he spoke at a second anniversary event for the embassy this week.
He announced that funding was secure through the next two years and he hoped for a couple of years after that, but he wanted more people to use the facilities at Royal Mint Court. He sees Liverpool in London playing a vital part in getting over the good news about major capital projects happening in Liverpool and hinted that a major announcement was imminent on the £5.5bn Liverpool Waters project.
A number of Liverpool business people spoke of their practical experience of using the facility in the capital. John Porter of Crosby Associates told of his success in developing the mobile app used by the London Chamber of Commerce and said it was as a result of having a base in the capital.
Liverpool Vision are strong supporters of the project and their flamboyant CEO Max Steinberg says Liverpool in London will be crucial to the projection of next year’s International Festival of Business being held on both sides of the Mersey.
Our own Frank McKenna pleaded for more positive coverage of this and other projects in the local press which he claimed was sometimes sabotaging jobs coming to the city by its coverage.
The event ended with Guy Wallis reflecting on the success of his vision and hoping that Mayor Joe Anderson could meet Mayor Boris Johnson on Tower Bridge to mark the success of Liverpool in London. So come on Boris you owe us that.