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Growth Company appoints Northern industry giant as new chair

Mike Blackburn

An industry leader who has been pivotal in helping to build a thriving economy in the North has been appointed as the new chair of the Growth Company.

Mike Blackburn, OBE, currently a member of the Growth Company’s board and former chair of Greater Manchester’s Local Enterprise Partnership (GMLEP), will take up the role from the end of March.

Blackburn spent his 36-year career in the private sector working for technology companies, including 25 years at BT. He was awarded an OBE for services to the economy in the North West in 2015, and holds a portfolio of non-exec roles including chair of Dixons Academy Trust, trustee of the Lowry Theatre, and Dean’s Advisory Council Member for Lancaster University Management School.

Mike also sits on the North West advisory board for the Prince of Wales’ charity, Business in the Community, and was selected as the Prince’s NW Regional Ambassador for 2010/11 and 2011/12.

As chair of the GMLEP, he made a huge contribution to Greater Manchester and was instrumental in the development and implementation of the city-region’s Local Industrial Strategy. He remains an ex-officio board member.

Cllr Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester lead for economy, business and international, and member of the board said: “As a current member of the board and with almost four decades as a private sector leader, Mike brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. His leadership, insight and passion for building a thriving Northern economy will prove pivotal in driving forward the priorities of the board over the coming years as the Growth Company continues its mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives.”

Blackburn added: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of chair with the Growth Company. The company has had many fantastic achievements in the last few years and been significant in its support to businesses and individuals during and following the pandemic. I hope to be able to build on that success and, with chief executive Mark Hughes, the senior management team and board members, to take the Growth Company to even more success in the coming years.”

Blackburn will be taking the helm from Richard Topliss, who steps down as chair after more than eight years next month. Growth Company is an award-winning, accredited, social enterprise with a mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives across the North of England.


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