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Predicting a bright future

The outgoing acting chief executive of Newry Chamber of Commerce believes that the city has turned a corner following the financial challenges of recent years. Colleen Dowdall steps down from the position this week but said that she has seen positive changes in recent months that point towards a bright future. “I came into the position towards the end of 2012,” she told the Reporter. “It was a time when there was a lot of stress for traders (due to the economy) and the challenge of bringing footfall to the city centre. It was a big worry. Since then a number of initiatives have been implemented to improve both the appearance and marketing of the city as a retail destination – something Colleen believes is starting to meet dividends. “There have been a lot of initiatives such as ‘Hello Newry’ which is bringing life to the Cathedral and Creamery quarters,” she said. “There have been pop up shops which have started coming into Newry. There are also plans for the events space to ensure to ensure that the city is vibrant and people will continue to come to it.” In the past one of the greatest challenges facing retail sector in the city was the perceived barrier between the two shopping centres and traditional shopping streets – something that an upcoming £2.4m scheme hopes to remedy. “The linkage scheme is bringing the three areas together, the two shopping centres and Hill Street and Monaghan Street,” Colleen said. “I know the Chamber have talked about if a lot. The city centre is a small area and this scheme will really lift it up and give it what it needs – that people can walk from the shopping centres into the city centre.” Colleen has also seen new businesses opening something the recent Business Awards has highlighted. “There is always change, obviously there are shops opening and closing all the time,” Colleen said. “But I have definitely seen an increase (in new business) and have seen a lot more interest in the city centre. Last week we had 98 shortlisted businesses for the Business Awards and a lot of new businesses were involved. I have met some exceptional business people and worked with every sector. I will miss it. We work so hard in the Chamber to attract investment and create jobs to make this city better for everyone – but I will continue to read the paper to know what is happening.”


Newry Reporter

25th September 2013