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Local businesses unite to support Newry ‘Buy Local’ Campaign

Newry’s first ever ‘Buy Local’ campaign was launched last night to a packed Sean Hollywood Arts Centre.

The project, designed to encourage local people to spend their money within the community, is spearheaded by Newry & Mourne District Council.

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.

Local Councillor Pat McGinn, who has been integral in the campaign from the outset, reiterated his belief that shopping locally was the main way to boost the local economy.

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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Posted by on Mar 29 2013. Filed under Business, Featured Story, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Local businesses unite to support Newry ‘Buy Local’ Campaign”

  1. Des

    Clearly they didn’t squeeze in; there are at least 20 empty seats in that picture.

    This whole issue about parking is fairly annoying too. It costs 40 pence to park for three hours in the bridge car park – how is that not fair? How about addressing the lack of, or indeed cost of public transport in and around the town – for my money someone needs to look seriously at bringing back the black taxis as they would be a more sustainable option around the newry area – see West Belfast).

    The choice of shops in the town centre is abysmal – poundland, aroundapound, poundstretcher…. etc, etc. Make an effort to attract some better stores….

    A food festival – great idea… just hope it isn’t highlighting our culinary tradition because that is, quite frankly, shocking – chinese and chippers, as well as some over priced and awful restaurants… i do like grounded though! Given that you have to go as far as the point or carlingford for a decent meal in Newry says it all.

    I don’t think you have to look to much further that N&MDC to see why our town/city is in such disarray… they are inept in almost every aspect of what they do. Newry should be thriving, its location on the border makes it a mecca for southern shoppers and although there numbers are down, many still come.

    Where is the evidence that this income has been invested in our town. We pay among the highest rates in the province and for what?

    Facilities for leisure, sports, arts and the community are terrible, among the worst anywhere in fact. There isn’t even a park within the town centre where I can take my children to play – I have to drive to Slieve Gullion or Kilbroney.

    Hill Street has two things going for it – the Credit Union and the Library. Why else would you go there it is just grim.

  2. Pat

    Many Local Business’s seem more interested in charging where possible and as much as possible. Some businesses hide their prices so you only know the price by asking or at the point of purchase. Some times I get charged different prices from one day to the next like in petrol station on the Rathfriland Road. It goes from reasonable to Ridiculous! And here petrol prices in Newry, they are having a laugh! Any thing up to 10p a litre dearer than the rest of the North.

    Not all but many can’t get a grasp of promotion. Graeme Finnegan is on the ball there with his £5 Friday idea.

    Offers and incentifies are very few and far between in local business’s. For example the ticket offers on the odd buttercrane flyer are laughable. Also most offers are based on prior high prices, you cant fool me. £5 off something that was priced £10 higher than everywhere else is not an offer!

    I have a card that gets offers like 2 for 1 in Pizza Express and 20% off food in Frankie and Benny’s, Chiquito’s, GBK, McHugh’s, Olio, Roma’s, The Botanic Inn and Wagamama’s to named a few. I also get a reduction on cinema tickets in most cinema’s throughout Northern Ireland except Newry Omniplex of course. What does this card do for me in Newry? Gets me £1 off the Funhouse and a few other useless things … woo!

    Its cheaper for me to drive to Belfast and have a day there of entertainment, eating and shopping than it does for me to drive a mile into Newry town centre. Here the quality matches the price. Not like the Shelbournes “bland” food at 5* prices or Red’s 60 mins to boil an egg or the Canal Courts rude staff. Is this really the best Newry can do?

    I’ll gladly have a coffee in Grounded or a sandwich from Courtney’s and its hard to fault the value in fiveways as for the rest, my wallet is staying in my pocket.

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