‘We help our members grow through a variety of networking opportunities.’

New face BIDS to help revitalize Newry city centre

A concept started in a small town in Canada with the purpose of helping small businesses cope and compete with larger multinationals has been established in Newry. And the young woman fronting the new initiative says she believes the project can help revitalize Newry city centre. Sarah Henry took up the BID manager position earlier this year. She explained that the project normally takes the form of a not for profit organization funded by a levy on the rateable value of businesses in the area. The rate is agreed upon by members who must vote by ballot to implement the BID. “It will be my job to demonstrate how paying into the BID will be cost effective for every stakeholder,” said Mrs Henry. “We already know we have a prime region and an excellent base in Newry but it will be the little extras voiced by the business community which will prove invaluable tot eh area in terms of increasing foot fall, exposure and the profitability of the designated area. In such tough economic times we need initiatives like the BID to focus on growth by taking a hands on approach in working with the business community and local authorities to raise the profile of the city. The BID will not be a faceless organization but a proactive and responsible vehicle assisting and improving trade and consumer activity. We need to continue to work with key stakeholders to revitalize the city centre and build up an identifiable ‘downtown personality’ where visitors and locals like to spend time and money. We want to encourage more ownership of the city – to work in partnership with programmes already in existence like community safety policing partnership, Newry’s Purple Flag status, Hello Newry branding of the city and so on. The entrepreneurial drive is already there and we just want to build upon it. In respect of the BID a series of consultations meetings and information seminars will be set up in order to hear what potential members wish to raise as a matter of concern or areas that they could be best served by the BID. Successful BIDS across the UK have worked closely with their members and partners to put in place unique and innovative projects that have developed the entire streetscape of cities and towns resulting in improved business relationships, greater footfall and ultimately increased profits. Projects can range from putting in place night time events to improving night time economy, assistance with funding applications for regeneration, partnership advice, revamping vacant units, organizing pop up urban art events, improved signage and tourism information. Even though the council and Newry City Centre Management organize events throughout the year we would like to investigate other possibilities like a Newry City festival that would create a vibrant buzz and perhaps an increased night time economy,” added by Mrs Henry. “We will be working in partnership with the Chamber, the new council, Newry City Centre Management and key stakeholders who already have an interest in the revitalization of the city. We shall be listening to the businesses and implementing a strategy to take on board what the community needs and wants. We are aware of the challenges city centre businesses face which include increased rates as well as the threat of out of town development, a significant concern for local businesses in the city and the periphery. The BID is an opportunity to move forward together and take the initiative to create a better city.”             


7th October 2014

Newry Democrat