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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Ballymena BID celebrates a successful year and plans for a promising future

Back row L-R: Hugh Black (Treasurer), Roy Smith (Vice Chair), Thomas McKillen (Chair of Marketing Group) is pictured with, front row: Aileen McGarry (Secretary), Stephen Reynolds (Chair), James Perry MBE (Gallaher Trust).

Back row L-R: Hugh Black (Treasurer), Roy Smith (Vice Chair), Thomas McKillen (Chair of Marketing Group) is pictured with, front row: Aileen McGarry (Secretary), Stephen Reynolds (Chair), James Perry MBE (Gallaher Trust).

Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID), the first BID established in Northern Ireland in 2015, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday, June 18, at the Adair Arms in Ballymena.

The meeting celebrated an outstanding year of achievements and outlined plans for a prosperous future. 

The AGM, attended by a broad range of key stakeholders, business owners and staff, was chaired by Stephen Reynolds, who has served as BID Chair since 2019. Stephen is the long-standing business owner of The Front Page bar in Ballymena, and was re-elected unanimously as Chair. He acknowledged the challenging business landscape, emphasising the adaptability and evolution of local businesses. 

Despite the challenges, over eight new businesses have opened in the town over the past 12 months, showcasing the resilience and ongoing reinvention of Ballymena's unique High Street.

Significant investments, including the £7 million Fairhill Shopping Centre’s Primark project, the largest store outside of Belfast, have bolstered Ballymena's status as a prime retail destination. 

Stephen highlighted the importance of community service and the role of business owners in delivering exceptional service and offering to attract footfall.

"The business landscape may be challenging, but our ability to adapt and evolve has been our strength. It is imperative for us to continue asking, 'How can we serve our community better?'" he said. 

The AGM also highlighted successful campaigns and events, such as the Easter "Fashion, Food and Fun" campaign, the "Treat Your Teacher" competition gift card initiative, and the "Ballymena Fall Fashion Show", which attracted hundreds of visitors and boosted local trade.

Upcoming this year include Summer Fun Days, Halloween Trick or Treat Trail and the annual Discount Day. The ongoing "Leaders of Tomorrow" program, in partnership with Core Impact and funded by the Gallaher Trust, was highlighted as a significant initiative to bolster leadership skills among local business staff and management.

Stephen Reynolds (Chair), James Perry MBE (Gallaher Trust).

Stephen Reynolds (Chair), James Perry MBE (Gallaher Trust).

James Perry, MBE, and Board Director of the Gallaher Trust was a key speaker at the event. He said:

"The progress and initiatives led by Ballymena BID are truly inspiring. Through collaborative efforts, we can continue to drive positive change and economic growth in our community."  

Additionally, productive discussions with Gordon Lyons addressed issues affecting the town centre such as crime, business costs and more. The BID continues to advocate for fair rates models and improved public facilities. 

Ballymena Gift card sales exceeded £130K this year, reinvesting in the local economy. The BID's efforts in raising awareness and funds for causes like bowel cancer through campaigns such as "Alison's Know Your Normal" were also recognised. 

The AGM welcomed new board members, including Mark Sheridan of Danske Bank and Councillor Laurie Philpot, alongside Valerie McLernon, the new manager at Fairhill. 

Ursula O’Loughlin from Mid & East Antrim Borough Council expressed her support, stating:

"On behalf of the council, I congratulate Ballymena BID on another successful year. Together, we can make the area grow stronger, and we remain committed to supporting the BID's initiatives." 

Ballymena BID looks forward to another year of growth and community enrichment, building on the solid foundation laid by its dedicated team and supportive community. Ballymena BID was established in 2015 as the first Business Improvement District in Northern Ireland. Its mission is to promote Ballymena as a prime retail destination, ensuring it remains a safe, clean, and welcoming place for residents and visitors alike.

Through strategic marketing, events, and community engagement, Ballymena BID aims to attract investment and support local businesses. 


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