A major conference aimed at improving trading conditions for hard hit retailers has been held in Ballymena.
Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland was the key speaker at the International Business Improvement District conference.
Business improvement districts (BIDs) are partnerships between local authorities and the business community to develop and invest in projects and services that aim to strengthen the economy.
Moe than 100 delegates from across Northern Ireland, including elected representatives and traders, attended the event in Ballymena’s Braid Centre and heard from experts from Australia, Austria, Japan, South Africa and the USA on best practice examples across the world.
There are now over 1,000 business improvement districts worldwide and since 2004, districts have been established in England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. The Northern Ireland Executive has commenced the legislative and consultative process that could see BID legislation introduced.
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said: ‘Business improvement districts will provide a valuable economic boost to local retailers across our provincial towns, many of whom are struggling to keep afloat in these tough times.”
Ald. Maurice Mills, Chair of Ballymena Borough Council’s Integrated Economic Growth and Development Committee, said: “BIDs legislation here is now at the final stages and this will give local businesses a greater say in determining and planning the future of their commercial centres.”
The consultation period for The Business Improvement Districts (NI) Act 2013 ran from Monday 17 June to Friday 6 September 2013.