Local businesses unite to support Newry ‘Buy Local’ Campaign
Friday, March 29th, 2013
Business, Featured Story, News
Newry’s first ever ‘Buy Local’ campaign was launched last night to a packed Sean Hollywood Arts Centre.
The focus of the campaign is to inform local people about the economic and cultural benefits of buying local, supporting local jobs and making the Newry & Mourne area ‘your destination’.
A diverse audience, including leading business men and women from the city and further afield, squeezed into the Auditorium yesterday evening to hear from Newry & Mourne District Council representatives and the Lord Mayor amongst others.
Eddy Curtis, Director of Newry & Mourne District Council opened proceedings by explaining what form the initiative would take.
According to Curtis, the ‘Buy Local’ campaign will involve extensive advertising and public awareness campaigns, in the form of a billboard poster campaign on the three main roads into the City centre and leaflet drops as well as liaising with local businesses and schools.
The project will also involve participating businesses sticking ‘Buy Local’ posters on their premises and businesses offering great deals and loyalty schemes to encourage the local community to choose to buy from an independent local business. A new website and Facebook page has also been set up to coincide with the launch.
A radio campaign will also form part of initiative, with Curtis explaining that the campaign intends to try and attract people not just from Newry & Mourne, but from Belfast, Dublin and further afield.
Local businesses, according to the Council Director, also have an essential part to play in the campaign and he asked all participating shops to make a pledge to source locally.
A local food festival might also be on the cards according to Curtis, who reiterated his belief that showcasing all that is good in the Newry & Mourne area and playing to the city’s strengths is vital and will contribute to the success of any campaign.
Newry Lord Mayor John McArdle joined Jack Murphy, Chairman of Newry City Centre Management and Cathal Austin, President of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade in explaining to the audience the benefits of the campaign.
Major McArdle stated, “The buy local initiative is designed to encourage citizens to spend their money locally and with the main focus being on educating people about the economic and cultural benefits of buying local and also creating and securing local jobs.
“Making the Newry & Mourne area your destination for shopping and doing business is significant to the local economy.
“The public meeting is an opportunity for the people of Newry & Mourne to be collectively creative in their thinking and discuss a number of proposals and strategies that can be implemented.
The Mayor also asked for everyone who lives, works and visits the district to fully endorse the campaign.
Eddy Curtis then opened proceedings up to the audience so they could give their feedback and opinions on the initiative, which provoked an overwhelming reaction of positive support for the campaign.
Various members of the local business community provided their own ideas about what could be included to help the campaign. Graeme Finegan from Grounded brought forward the idea of a ‘Fiver Friday’ type concept.
This would involve any participating businesses offering some of their products or services for £5 to attract customers back into the shops. Deborah Loughran from Stakeholder Communications said the idea of ‘pop-up shops’ could also be implemented to offer a little bit more diversity in the town centre.
One bone of contention with several local business people was rates and inadequate city centre parking. This, according to some in the audience, was playing a significant role in driving business away instead of encouraging it.
Pat also mentioned the fact that his own son had left Newry for pastures new because of the lack of jobs and prospects.
This, according to Pat, was just one incentive for he and others to help drive forward a new era of business in Newry and Mourne.
SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley also spoke at the event and said he would continue to lobby government about business rates and parking facilities for Newry.
Speaking after the event to Newry Times, Dominic said he and the SDLP were fully behind the campaign and believe it has the potential to raise awareness about keeping and creating jobs within Newry and Mourne.
“It was very heartening to see the turn out among the traders and the strong support there is for this initiative from the Council, Chamber of Commerce, and the City Centre Management,” Dominic stated.
“The important thing now is to get the message out among the shopping public so that they always consider shopping locally, and buying local produce is a priority.
Bradley added, “There were many talented people at the launch who have useful skills which can help ensure that that social media and e-commerce works to the benefit of local traders. We have made a good start and we should continue to build on it.”
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