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Ballymena BID calls for Yes from local business

This week marks the start of the five-week ballot process which will determine the future of the Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) which has operated in the town for the past five years.

Hailed unanimously as Northern Ireland’s first BID success story, the Ballymena BID board, chaired by well-known, local businessman, Stephen Reynolds, and supported by a collective of owners and representatives of local businesses, is now encouraging all local traders and stakeholders to come together in support of their recently published Business Plan for 2021 -2021….and vote YES in favour of a new BID.

The five-year plan, which will generate in excess of £1m, will double as part of a post-COVID, economic recovery strategy for Ballymena town centre. The Board are keen to ensure they get the support of the town’s business owners to secure the funding.

Stephen Reynolds, Chair of Ballymena BID, and proprietor of the award-winning Front Page Bar explained, “This week marks a very positive start to the much-needed economic recovery of Ballymena town centre.  I am encouraging everyone to get their postal vote completed and returned as early as possible and vote YES.”

“The past five years have allowed us as a board, most of whom operate a business in the town, to work closely with other local business owners to decide what our town needs most.

“We operate at local level, using our combined local knowledge and experience to continue to formulate the best way forward for Ballymena. I feel strongly that the BID business model will be fundamental to the success of our town centre recovery strategy.

“The BID was established to encourage growth, development and continued investment into the town centre. During our first five-year term we have been instrumental in helping to build and maintain a clean, safe, accessible and welcoming experience for local shoppers and visitors alike.”

The Ballymena BID was the very first BID district established in Northern Ireland in 2015. There are now over 300 Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) throughout the UK. It is a tried and tested business model.

Stephen continued: “It is now time to look forward to our roadmap to recovery, ensuring we maintain our position as the number one retail and hospitality destination of choice in Northern Ireland.

“In recent years, prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, statistics demonstrated a 6.9 per cent increase in footfall for Ballymena….bucking the national trend.”

“We plan to build on that and have outlined our strategy in our Ballymena BID Business Plan document for 2021-2026.

“During the first term we generated additional income of £150,000 for our local economy through funding from various sources.  The BID Board would remain confident in securing similar additional funding during the next five-year term.

“If the BID is successful then we will have over £1m to help roll out our five-year plan. If not, then Ballymena BID will cease and we won’t have that pot of funding to use to positively promote our town to the rest of Northern Ireland and beyond.

“We now urgently need every local business owner to work together in mutual support to help Ballymena rebuild and recover during such challenging, economic times. As someone who has owned and operated various businesses in this town for the past 35 years, I genuinely can’t see a better way forward than the current BID strategy.”

“As with every town centre, there will be challenges ahead. However, there’s a definite synergy to be had by everyone working together. That includes our colleagues at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Ballymena Chamber of Commerce and Ballymena Retailers Against Crime. Together everyone achieves more for the greater good of our local economy.

Stephen concluded: “For a successful Yes vote, over 50 per cent of eligible businesses must be in favour of the Ballymena BID Renewal Business Plan. That’s why we are calling on our local business community to support this important initiative which is now open for postal ballot. Many of you should have received ballot papers posted to your business premises in recent days. Duplicate or replacement ballot papers are available by contacting our BID manager Emma.  I would encourage all of you to vote YES in favour of the new Ballymena BID. The closing date for votes is 30th March 2021.”

For further information about the Ballymena BID please contact Emma McCrea – Interim Manager, Ballymena BIDE: [email protected] Or visit: wwwballymenameans.com