Liverpool's new Arena and Convention Centre is to welcome its first-ever conference delegates next week. Over 1,000 social entrepreneurs are arriving at ACC Liverpool on Tuesday, 26th February for the two-day Voice 08 conference.
The event will take place in part of the BT Convention Centre - which will open in full in April - as well as the adjoining Echo Arena. Voice 08 is the UK's conference for social enterprise - profit-making businesses which are set up to tackle environmental and social needs. Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, Cafedirect and The Big Issue are all examples.
Speakers at the event will include Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Government and it will also feature a fair-trade fashion show, a conference for young social entrepreneurs, and a range of performances celebrating Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture. The conference will be the first use of the BT Convention Centre's 3725m² multi-purpose hall on its lower floor. The upper floor of the BT Convention Centre, featuring three auditoriums and 18 breakout rooms, will be fully completed and open in April.
The completion of the BT Convention Centre will mark the start of a new multi-million industry for Liverpool, with conference delegates arriving in the city from organisations as diverse as the British Chambers of Commerce, the Royal College of Nursing and the Association of Chief Police Officers. Events such as these are expected to generate around £60million in economic impact to the Liverpool city region in 2008 alone.
Claire Dove, CEO of Blackburne House and chair of the Social Enterprise Coalition, who are organising the event, said: "It is wonderful to be here in my hometown for this conference, particularly during its year as European Capital of Culture. The transformation Liverpool has undergone in the last 20 years is remarkable, and social enterprise has played a significant part in its renaissance.
The green credentials of the city's magnificent new waterfront venue, ACC Liverpool, fit well with our own values, making the choice for Voice08 even easier." Bob Prattey, Chief Executive of ACC Liverpool, added: "Voice 08 marks the start of Liverpool taking its first steps towards being one of the UK's leading conference destinations. When the BT Convention Centre is fully open and functioning in April, there is no doubt about what a fantastic impact it will have on the city and its fortunes."