In April 2021 Newry BID (Business Improvement District) commenced its second five-year term. A revote in March 2021 saw a 90% majority of member businesses revote to have the service retained.
Newry BID was delighted to take on the new mandate to support the continuous improvement of Newry city centre. As part of its campaign for the 2021- 26 mandate Newry BID committed to three core values – to help businesses to ‘Belong’, to ‘Invest’ in the city centre and to ‘Deliver’ for its members.
Eamonn Connolly explains what has been achieved in year one, “It was so important for us to get a mandate for a second term from our members. There was, however, no opportunity to rest on our laurels. We made a commitment to members, and we hope that in year one, while still managing Covid challenges, we have delivered as their voice in the city centre. Those early few months were spent supporting businesses through Covid Grant applications, supporting with HR issues relating to Furlough and lobbying for delivery of, and eventually an extension, to the business rates relief scheme.
“In the early part of the new term from last April onwards cleaning continued to be extremely important as we welcomed more people back to Newry. As we learned to live with restrictions, people appreciated that BID were out on the streets cleaning touchpoints such as public furniture, cash points, door handles, shop fronts and the pavements. The increased usage of our free car park at North Street is a good barometer that things are slowly improving.
“People may not realise that BID is also involved in lobbying in terms of disruption to trade in the city centre. With coordination and discussion between contractors and businesses BID was for example, able to recently help shorten a road works programme on Sugar Island from six weeks down to two weeks.
“As we moved towards the later part of the year, the focus switched to welcoming people back to Newry and trying to encourage shoppers back into the city centre. We launched and managed our ‘TAP into Newry’ campaign which saw more than £10.6 million of ‘Spend Local’ vouchers utilised in businesses in Newry, Mourne and Down. It is expected that a large proportion of this was spent in Newry city centre. During that campaign more than 100 businesses got involved; more than 120 customers won vouchers in our ‘Random Taps of Kindness’; there was extensive press coverage; and with the support of local influencers had a reach of more than 185,000 on social media.”
Eamonn Connolly added, “We were involved in many other activities in 2021-22 including lobbying for the Albert Basin Park; leading the Lower Hill Street Revitalisation Grant Scheme; the Murals at the North Street underpass; the retention of Purple Flag for the night-time economy; and numerous competitions and celebrations including Butcher’s Week, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and 12 Days of Christmas. We have many community partnerships and stakeholder organisations who support us. We also continued to provide training, marketing, access to billboards and VMS signage for our members as well as general business support. Ultimately, we are there to help our members with problems whether it’s providing training, addressing anti-social behaviour issues or simply raising the profile of their business.
“We are looking forward to year two where we have many activities and events already in the planning. We are proud sponsors of Newry City Half Marathon taking place on Sunday 29th May. This promises to be a fantastic event for the city. We are organising stand up paddle boarding clean ups on the Canal; Summer Saturdays and Sundays entertainment in the city; and continuing to work to deliver a number of parklets in Newry.
“We are here to listen to and support our members. We aim to provide good value to everyone who pays the BID levy and to make sure they get much more back than they put in. We live by our values of Belong, Invest, Deliver, and hope to make Newry city centre cleaner, greener and safer – a great place for all who live, work and do business here.”