Town centre traders united to launch the concept of ‘Ballymena Business Improvement District’ or ‘BID’ -last week.
With support from the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and delivered by the North East Partnership and with support from Ballymena Borough Council, local businesses have been working with statutory agencies and linking with other towns to prepare the ground for the BID project.
The launch was well attended by business interests in the town as well as local councillors and council officials.
The Mayor of Ballymena, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE said: “This is a significant opportunity for Ballymena to build on and bring added value to public sector investment in the town. BIDs are driven by business for business and have demonstrated success by increasing footfall and spend, reducing costs to businesses, attracting new investment and improving competitiveness with other locations.”
Terry Robb from Ulster Bank, who is the Chairman of Ballymena Town Centre Development, echoed these sentiments: “Developing the BID in Ballymena will bring great benefit to the town and will give local commercial enterprises a greater say in the development and regeneration of the town.”
President of Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry Alan Stewart appealed to businesses within the new BID area to grasp the opportunity being presented.
Mo Aswat Director of the Mosaic Partnership and with experience of delivering over 60 successful BIDs in the UK emphasised the benefits of BIDs and the return on investment opportunities created by BID development.
He explained: “For every £1 that Businesses invest in the BID they receive on average around £3 in return.”
Two local businesses also made an input at the launch. Richard Montgomery of Montgomery’s and Thomas McKillen of McKillens of Ballymena both spoke positively about the opportunities a BID could
Richard said: “The BID will put local traders in control and at the heart of decision making. A BID will help to enhance the Ballymena experience, making the town safer, cleaner, and a more attractive place to live, work and socialise. We have heard about the success of BIDs in other towns and are keen to see Ballymena join in with a group of forward thinking businesses.”
Thomas McKillen explained that initially he had been unsure about developing the BID, but that now he had changed his mind and was convinced of the benefits a BID could bring.
“Ballymena is a vibrant town full of talented people and great national and independent businesses. I believe through the BID we can harness this potential and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.