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Three days in the Big Apple – and much to follow up on

By Richard Muir, Glasgow Chamber Deputy Chief Executive 

Chamber President Neil Amner and I recently joined a party of senior people from Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, Glasgow Life, and our top universities and colleges in going to New York City.

We comprised a delegation to the Big Apple after the Marketing Bureau a successful bid for GREAT UK Challenge Funding targeted at promoting tourism, trade and investment and the higher and further education sectors.

The focus of the trip was an event called A Great Night In With Glasgow, a reception held in a stunning venue called 632 On Hudson in the very trendy West Village – a four-storey private house and treasure trove of interior design which is let out by its owner for private functions.

The Chamber was asked to invite members of our President’s Club U.S. “Away Team”which includes top exiled Scots in business with a Glasgow and Scotland background who have agreed to contribute time and connections for the benefit of our economy.

Over 20 of them joined an audience of 150 influencers who enjoyed such delicacies as a whisky cocktail courtesy of Glengoyne Distillery and Irn-Bru bonbons from Glickman’s, Glasgow’s oldest sweet shop in a room lit by 120-year-old Glasgow firm Shearer Candles.

It was the first “live” use of the President’s Club concept abroad, with Neil Amner introducing our Presidents Club members to other guests and invitees, and there’s no doubt it worked.

Speeches followed from Danny Lopez, Her Majesty’s Consul General in New York, and from Councillor George Redmond, the City’s Marketing Bureau’s Vice-Chair.

I spoke at length with an Away Team member who highlighted the level at which our overseas President’s Club members operate – Ken Donnelly, Director of Risk at the Bank of America, and was introduced to James Heggie III, Merrill Lynch’s First Vice President, an American with proud Scots roots.

James is soon to become president of the St Andrew’s Society of New York City, which every year donates a significant sum to charities in the Glasgow area. He asked us to compile an “experiences that money can’t buy” insiders trip to Glasgow that they can auction at their main annual fundraising banquet in November, and that is being brought together by the team at the Marketing Bureau.

Neil and I had a very productive meeting with Jessica Walker, President of Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, and I’m pleased to say that the outcome has the potential to lead to a future partnership between our two Chambers - similar to one that Manhattan has underway with The Quebec Chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada.

The previous evening we were invited to a University of Strathclyde alumni event hosted by Strathclyde’s Principal Professor Sir Jim McDonald at the Benjamin Hotel on E. 50th Street, where the guest speaker was Dr Scott O’Neill, assistant commissioner of the NYPD’s Police Laboratory no less.

Scott’s originally from Baillieston and applied for a job in the NYPD after completing his PhD in chemistry at Strathclyde in 1998, starting as a Criminalist Level II, and is now one of the top men in the busiest police lab in the USA.

These trips are all about making connections and helping members, and between us Neil and I made plenty of valuable contacts on this short trip. Watch this space for what comes next but we’re confident that through the President’s Club here and in NYC we will have some very positive outcomes for some of our members in the year ahead.

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