Five experienced business leaders have been appointed to the Greater Manchester Business Board.

Refreshing its membership following the decision to phase out Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the Business Board will continue to provide a strong voice for business within local and national decision-making.

The new members were confirmed at a meeting of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) held in Bolton on Friday (24 November).

Joining the Greater Manchester Business Board are:

  • James Byrne, Partner, Sustainable Ventures
  • Devrim Celal, CEO, KrakenFlex
  • Laura Percy, Senior Development Director, LandsecU+I
  • Steve Rothberg, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Michael Wilton, Director and Manchester office leader, Arup

Further new members are expected to be confirmed later this year.

The Business Board works with GMCA and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to provide private sector insight, guidance and challenge to help shape strategy and policy in the city-region. It is made up of leaders from Greater Manchester’s business community and is chaired by Lou Cordwell OBE, with Greater Manchester Economy Lead, Cllr Bev Craig, serving as Vice-Chair.

Earlier this year Government confirmed its decision to move on from Local Enterprise Partnerships, the bodies appointed to drive regional economic development, with their functions transferred to local and combined authorities from April 2024.

In response, a new model was developed for Greater Manchester, creating a Greater Manchester Business Board which is fully integrated into GMCA.

As the Business Board continues its evolution, the new members will offer fresh perspectives, valuable experience and expertise gained in a range of sectors and topics critical to the city-region’s future success.

Chair of Greater Manchester Business Board, Lou Cordwell OBE, said: “Following a thorough recruitment process, we are pleased to welcome James, Devrim, Laura, Steve and Mike to the Greater Manchester Business Board. Their insights and knowledge will be invaluable as we seek to deliver the right kind of economic growth, bringing people and planet with us. I would also like to thank the departing members for their contributions over the years.

“As we transition from the LEP model, and now with our membership refreshed, the Business Board will continue working with local leaders to give representation to our city-region’s business community. Together we remain committed to building a fairer, greener and more innovative Greater Manchester economy.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The Business Board performs an important role in Greater Manchester, helping us ensure perspectives from businesses of all sizes and from a range of sectors are considered by leaders. Lou and the Board also do fantastic work as advocates for Greater Manchester and our economic strengths, both nationally and internationally. I look forward to working with the new Board members to help our city-region reach its potential.”

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Lead for Economy, Business, and Inclusive Growth, said: “In Greater Manchester we want to build an economy that works for more of our people. The Business Board has an important part to play, giving business leaders a voice and providing a forum for sharing their insights. The new Board members will help us as we seek to deliver on our ambition for inclusive growth.”