Local businessman and well known Ballymena publican, Stephen Reynolds, has been elected as the new Chairman of Ballymena BID (Ballymena Business Improvement District) at the Annual General Meeting which took place at The Braid Arts Centre on Tuesday 17th September 2019.
Stephen is a former Chairman of the Board of Hospitality Ulster and currently serves as Chairman of the Co. Antrim section….as well as representing Co. Antrim at Board level. The Ballymena man has traded successfully, in various capacities in Ballymena town centre, for 35 years….the last 29 years of which have seen him as proprietor of The Front Page Bar. The award winning publican was also shortlisted to represent Ballymena in the final of The Great British High Street Awards at a ceremony in London in 2018.
Stephen explained, “I’m a huge supporter of the BID model…especially the principle of everyone coming together to do a little bit and thereby contributing to the greater good of our local economy.” He added, “Ballymena’s Annual Discount Day started in a similar way many years ago with a few local, like minded, Church Street traders, pooling their resources to promote Church Street ….and their respective goods and services. That same Discount Day has gathered momentum and grew over recent years to include all of Ballymena. It is now firmly established as one of the busiest shopping days of the calendar for traders in the Borough with visitors coming from near and far. There’s a distinct synergy to be harnessed by everyone working together….and as they say a rising tide floats everybody’s boat.”
Stephen continued, “I’ve lived in Ballymena for all of my life. During my 35 years of trading in Ballymena I too have witnessed many changes. My regular participation on the Board of Hospitality Ulster, and given HU’s alliance with Glyn Roberts at Retail N.I. and Stephen Kelly at Manufacturing N.I., I’m well aware that the challenges facing all business sectors across N. Ireland are not unique to Ballymena….it’s a province wide challenge. The local economy and the trading environment are constantly changing and we, as Ballymena traders, have to embrace those changes or risk getting left behind. The Ballymena BID is more important than ever at this time. I can’t see a better alternative.”
The new Chairman thanked the outgoing Chair Clive Kyle who was forced, during the year, to step down due to reasons of ill health. Stephen also acknowledged the sterling work of BID Manager Kathleen McBride. He went on to recognise the support given by local traders, fellow BID Board members, members of the various Working Groups and the BID Executive. Stephen also thanked them for volunteering their time, expertise and their combined partnership approach which has contributed to the success of the Ballymena BID to date.
Stephen summed up by saying, “Ballymena remains a great retail destination. Footfall figures, despite the current economic climate, have improved and our retail occupancy statistics remain stable….well below the UK and N.I. average. I know there will be challenges ahead but I would urge local businesses and stakeholders to support the BID during the next 5 years as we move towards the re-ballot in 2020.”
Other office bearers elected at the AGM included Hugh Black as Secretary, Ken Crawford as Treasurer and Andy Storey was re-elected as Vice Chair. Guest Speaker at the event was Karen McAuley from Bank of Ireland, Ballymena. Karen congratulated the BID on all that had been achieved to date and wished members continued success going forward.