A new business influence and lobbying organisation is launching in the city next week.

Downtown in Business was established in Liverpool 11 years ago to provide leadership for private sector companies and entrepreneurs and now has branches in Manchester, Leeds and Lancashire, with more than 900 members across the North West.

Downtown in Business Birmingham is the latest addition to the group which will launch on September 1 and be chaired by former Birmingham Post editor Stacey Barnfield.

Mr Barnfield took voluntary redundancy from publisher Trinity Mirror Midlands a month ago and will now be responsible for shaping events and attracting prominent speakers from a variety of sectors to discuss issues such as skills retention and access to finance.

He said major themes such as devolved powers for the West Midlands would be key features on Downtown in Business Birmingham's agenda.

"I'm delighted to be working with Downtown in Business as it launches in Birmingham," he said.

"There is much to champion and much to challenge in our region, such as Whitehall offers of devolution, the name and direction of the region's new super-council, a proposed metro mayor and a city authority in turmoil.

"However, I also want Downtown to play a part in street-level civic and business issues such as public realm, transport infrastructure and the city's heritage and conservation - all matters which affect businesses large and small."

Downtown in Business was founded by former politician Frank McKenna, who served as the leader of the North West Regional Assembly, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council and a parliamentary assistant.

Mr McKenna said: "Downtown is really looking forward to getting involved in Birmingham and engaging with the city's business community.

"In particular, we will be looking to offer a platform for business leaders and entrepreneurs on issues such as the West Midlands powerhouse and the idea of a metro mayor.

"It is important we hit the ground running and that means having someone with a good knowledge of the city, its issues and its businesses.

"Stacey has a real passion for Birmingham and a great private sector network. We are looking forward to him contributing to Downtown's work in our latest venture."