The new President of Newry Chamber of Commerce is hoping to increase its membership and strengthen ties with other chambers in the district over the course of his 2 years in office. Speaking to The Reporter Michael McKeown of Crash Services said that he is looking forward to his tenure in his new role and vowed to work as hard in it as he has done in his various businesses over the years.
Mr McKeown first joined the Chamber as well as the Northern Ireland Chamber 3 years ago as he began to wind down his own business activity, affording him more time to engage in other pursuits.
“I have served my apprenticeship – I could have been involved in these Chambers a lot earlier in life but I am ‘a dedicated to one cause person’ he said.’ Looking back I might have progressed much better in life if I had given more time to being outside of our own business but with the Chamber I will turn it into the same thing – I am 110 per cent focused. I have many other hobbies but over the next two years this is the focus.”
He added that this focus would be an absolute necessity given the time consuming nature of the role and the research needed to get to grips with the often complex knowledge required.”
“Brexit is an example. As the conference showed last month – there are so many issues and debate is far more complicated than anyone thinks it is. If I issued off the cuff statements it would be ridiculous because I wouldn’t have enough knowledge and I don’t think that knowledge will be complete for 6-12 months as the debate gets wider and wider.
While recognizing that the Chamber is also viewed as a ‘closed shop’ and ‘self interested’ the north Armagh native said that this was not the case and encouraged more businesses to get involved to dispel this view highlighting the numerous events such as the Christmas Lunch and various business workshops that the Chamber organises. The events are great – the amount of effort put in for the size of the Chamber is proportionally greater than any other Chamber. It is the most active chamber for the size of it and the amount of events we put up.”
“What we are missing is the underbelly which is the development of membership and width of influence through that. It requires resource and the resource in this case comes down to mere finance.”
My aspiration is to create through the Chamber a venture fund of several hundred thousand pounds top sponsor small businesses of the non-retail type – of the production export and manufacturing type – and at the essence of it all is that we can’t keep buying goods off ourselves we have to start producing a service or goods which is bringing revenue from somewhere even if it is only Belfast.”
” I would like this Chamber to go on an outreach to visit other chambers in this area and find out how we can do something jointly.”
What BID is about
As a keen supporter of the BID scheme, Mr McKeown was delighted with the recent ‘Yes’ vote and feels it can further improve the area he now calls home. If the area is better the commonwealth gets the good of it because you now have a lovely vibrant place where there are restaurants open at night, and you can park safely at night and there are people living above the shops again. That is what BID is all about.”
2nd December 2015