New Business Support Initiative Launched for Town Centre Businesses

Cllr Maureen Morrow with BID Manager Alison Moore President of the Ballymena Chamber Robin Cherry MBE and Joanna Robinson of 360 Properties

FOR those thinking about opening their own business or has a business in Ballymena town centre, there was an opportunity to hear how they can receive £2000 worth of business support.

The official launch of the initiative by Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) took place in Midtown Makers in Church Street, Ballymena on Friday 22nd June morning where it was supported and promoted by Ballymena Business Centre, Mid and East Antrim Council, Northern Regional College, Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ballymena Retailers Against Crime (BRAC).

Those stakeholders present were able to inform potential and current tenants of Ballymena town centre how they could tap into various wrap around business support from skills development to access to finance.

Starting a business at any time can have its challenges and risks, but those attending the event and those interested in opening a business premises in Ballymena’s town centre were told of a multitude of programmes they could access to help their business.

Melanie Christie Boyle, Chief Executive of Ballymena Business Centre said, “This collective initiative will provide vital wrap around support and add value to the rental of vacant town centre properties. We aim to create a nurturing town centre environment and promote Ballymena as a first choice destination for entrepreneurs to start and grow a business.”

Those present also heard from Allastar McGarry, Business Support Manager, Northern Regional College who talked about skills focus and InnovateUS. However, he also noted other programmes including apprenticeships and business consultancy which all can be accessed given certain criteria.

Paul Mellon, Business Client Manager of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council highlighted several Council programmes including the Kickstart Programme relevant to new businesses as well as the Business Escalator programme relevant to those businesses that have been trading for more than six months in addition to the Amplify Programme. The Council also provides support for innovation and research and development projects too.

The local Chamber, Ballymena Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry was offering a year’s free membership with access to a number of events and the business directory.

Alison Moore, BID Manager closed the event stating; “Today was about bringing together a number of stakeholders and in a collaborative approach showing local town centre businesses what support and finance they can access.

“Over 30 of those attending the event are now better informed as to where they can turn to for that support. For those that couldn’t make to the event or even to discuss and understand the next steps, I would ask them to get in touch with me, Alison Moore, at bidsmanager@ballymenabid.com.”

Further information can also be found at http://ballymenameans.com/useful-information

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