THE united voice of Ballyclare’s traders will help to ensure the town is better prepared for the tough challenges that lie ahead.
That was the resounding message from re-elected President of the town’s Chamber of Trade, Darren Black, at its 20th AGM which featured Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland as guest speaker.
Ballyclare councillor and MLA Paul Girvan chaired the meeting, and as well as Mr Black’s re-election, former Woodsides owner Niall McConkey was nominated as Past President - a new position created by the organisation, which started in 1992, in order to ensure his experience is retained in the Chamber.
Jacqui Neill was elected Secretary, Alison Thompson Vice President and Margaret Armstrong was re-elected Treasurer.
At the Thursday morning meeting (April 27), President Darren Black said he was pleased with the huge turnout for the meeting.
“I was delighted with how the meeting went and I am sure that this is, no doubt, to do with the efforts of the chamber over the last 12 months.
“By the continuation of a united voice and the strength of the number of businesses putting themselves forward to be a part of the Chamber Committee, the future of Ballyclare will be a little less uncertain,” he said.
“Hopefully as much and if not more will be achieved over the next 12 months and the presentation made by Minister Nelson McCausland on the town’s regeneration was excellent and I can’t wait to see its implementation.”
During the meeting, the Social Development Minister outlined how his department plans to invest in the town, along with Newtownabbey Borough Council, in order to help regenerate local business.
Following the meeting, Minister McCausland said: “I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet with the Chamber of Trade in Ballyclare and take on board their views and concerns.
“We have to acknowledge that these are difficult economic times for all retailers and businesses generally. It is important that we can take effective action together with local traders and the private sector to maximise those opportunities to increase and enhance the vibrancy of our towns.
“My department, in conjunction with Newtownabbey Borough Council, has in place a regeneration strategy for this area which identifies actions to improve the current situation. I would encourage all parties to work constructively together to ensure its effective implementation.
“DSD has also made available Urban Development Grants to encourage economic, physical and social regeneration by helping businesses develop their properties through refurbishment or the erection of new buildings on derelict sites. I am pleased that my Department has already been able to offer £70,000 to a business in Ballyclare for this purpose and would encourage other developers and property owners to explore this opportunity.”