The opening was a true hybrid event featuring live-stream feeds from individuals who were being interviewed on Zoom by Corin Crane, Black Country Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, who was live in a broadcasting studio.
The speakers comprised a mix of live and recorded interviews, and featured: Andy Street CBE, West Midlands mayor; Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce; April Pearson Myatt, finance director at Top Tubes; Cllr Patrick Harley and Kevin O’Keefe, chief executive, both from Dudley Council; Jon Kiteley, area director of Balfour Beatty; Anita Bhalla OBE, chair of West Midlands Leadership Commission and Calum Nisbet, the new commercial director at the Black Country Business Festival.
Interviews were beamed onto digital screens on ‘the sofa’ as though the guests were physically in the studio with Corin, and the entire event appeared as a complete production with a 'TV show' feel. Anyone unable to see the event live show can catch the recording on the Business Festival website.
This is the third Black Country Business Festival – an annual event that aims to bring the business community together to incite learning, sharing, networking and business growth.
Postponed from its original May dates due to the Coronavirus, the festival will be running for the next fortnight, with nearly 100 different business events taking place. Most are digital with the festival being adapted with the added facility for event organisers to host their events online.
Corin said, “Like all things COVID19-related, the Festival has, in the main, successfully moved to being fully ‘hybrid’ in format. There are a handful of in-person and hybrid events in the programme but the majority are digital. There are nearly 100 free business events in total which really demonstrates the breadth, diversity, innovation and strength of the region.
“We have been bowled over by the engagement levels so far - never has an initiative been more critical to those of the Black Country and beyond, providing the opportunity to collectively come together during these testing and challenging times, showcasing what is has to offer and present its united economic strength. By doing so, BCBF aims to place the region’s activities front and centre of the UK’s business agenda to drive inward investment and economic growth, through coherent, united and consistent outward promotion of the region’s business activities; whilst not least providing support, guidance and knowledge sharing to those who make up our business community – businesses themselves.
“The Festival will place Black Country businesses at the heart of UK business agenda through its demonstration of the region’s innovation, culture and commerce, it’s truly now a national event, that happens in the Black Country.”
Anita Bhalla added, “I think this festival is great. It shows that we can bring thousands of people together [metaphorically speaking]. It shows the imagination in the region and the sheer talent that exists. What we now need to do on the back of the festival is to build on it and there is a great potential to do that. So well done to everyone that has got behind this initiative.”