New Year Message from Newry Chamber President

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Sunday, January 1st, 2012
As the recently elected President of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade I approach the incoming year with a mixture of feelings. On one hand I am excited about the role the Chamber will need to take representing the interests of Newry’s business community and on the other one I can’t help but be concerned at the many challenges we will face in the year ahead. Uncertainty in the Eurozone, government spending cuts and a gloomy economic forecast continues to erode consumer confidence, increasing the pressure on local retailers and service providers. At times like this however it is important to focus on the positives. Newry Chamber welcomes the Department of Finance’s announcement of the extension to Small Business Rates Relief Scheme and we expressed our support for the scheme at a recent Finance Committee meeting in Stormont. As the Greater Newry Area’s business community is primarily made up of small businesses, many in the district will benefit from this modest rebate. Throughout the year ahead, Newry Chamber will continue to lobby local, regional and national Government to implement initiatives that will assist the business community and provide investment opportunities in the Greater Newry Area. The Environmental Improvement Scheme scheduled for Hill Street and Monaghan Street will be completed in April. Newry Chamber welcomes this £1.7m investment into our traditional shopping precincts; it will incorporate new street furniture, lighting and paving with the objective of encouraging more footfall into the City Centre. This year will undoubtedly be a busy one for the Chamber. We have numerous business support initiatives for members and the wider business community to avail of. We start with the “Communications in the Digital Age” workshop on January 18th. This will be delivered by Deborah King (Stakeholder), CIPR’s “Outstanding Young Communicator” 2011 and Niall Mc Keown from iON. On the 30th January, Newry Chamber will host a business dinner with a Senior Government Official from the Department of Finance and in March we will host another event with a Senior Representative from DETI. Plans are also in place for a meeting with the Head of Northern Ireland Civil Service and the Permanent Secretaries of all the Government Departments at Stormont. These engagements will enable the Chamber to lobby on key strategic issues such as Daisy Hill Hospital, business development, investment opportunities and government spending in this region. Other events in the coming year include the second annual “Newry Style City”, the Chambers Annual Dinner (now moved to springtime) and the biennial Greater Newry Business Awards. In addition 2012 sees the 10th Anniversary of Newry achieving City Status, the hosting of the Olympic Torch and the 120th anniversary of the Chamber which we hope to mark with a gala event. The business community in Newry has experienced difficult times before and whilst the economic woes of recent years have been the worst for at least a generation, I remain optimistic, we in business in Newry have proven to be resilient, resourceful and entrepreneurial in the face of past difficulties and that spirit, combined with the help of a strong proactive Chamber and supportive self reliant business community will see us through our current difficulties to a brighter future.
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