Our Economy is powering big Developments. In recent years, our economic infrastructure has been totally transformed. Major retail, office, leisure, commercial and industrial developments have delivered record employment levels and unrivalled opportunities.
Newry is a great place to do business in and to do business from – and as a result the economic growth of Newry in the past decade has been exceptional. Unemployment levels fell to under 3.6%, down from as high as 25% in the early 1990s. For the past four years, Newry and Mourne has consistently created more new small businesses per annum than any of the other 26 local authority areas in northern Ireland. In short, we have seen transformation of our economy, which continues to benefit the whole community.
We have also seen substantial developments. There have been a major expansion of facilities at the WIN Business Park – which was already the base from some 72 companies and the Newry and Mourne co-operative and enterprise Agency. New developments include the manufacturing companies and the creation of broadband enabled office space for an additional seven tenants.
In the retail sector, the Buttercrane shopping centre has completed a £2 million refurbishment which includes a new feature entrance designed to strengthen its links with the traditional city centre. Demand for property on the main streets of the city remains high, buoyed up by strong trading performances from the vast array of independent retailers, multi-nationals and business services. Likewise, the old Creamery Retail Park in the city and the Damolly retail park on the edge of the city both continue to make important contributions to the local economy. Meanwhile the reputation of the Quays Shopping & Leisure Centre continues to grow apace – not least with the arrival of many leading retail brands. In the commercial sector there has been a host of developments including Downshire Court, Monaghan Court Business Park and the major redevelopment of Drumalane mill. This prestigious development already includes the gift store by Ulster weavers on the ground floor with four floors of high quality office accommodation above, the majority of which has been pre–let prior to the completion of construction.
The Drumalane development will also include a wine bar and restaurant overlooking the Albert basin – which will be the latest in a long list of recent leisure developments including new Italian and Thai restaurants and other evening venues such as The Bank, Velvet, Bellinis, Canal Court Hotel and Cobbles.
International industrial success – such as Norbrook Laboratories, Anglo Irish Beef Processors and Glen Dimplex – have continued to prosper, while we have recently seen Newry factories and advance business units built on both crane and Greenbank industrial estates. Indeed, at both these locations the demand for land reflects the desire of both local entrepreneurs and inward investors to be part of Newry’s ongoing economic transformation.