Businesses urged to back chamber

Businesses urged to back chamber

23 November 2011

THE woman at the helm of Downpatrick’s new Chamber of Commerce wants everyone in business in the town to support the organisation.

Tracey Quail says the success of the group will be determined by the strength, support and enthusiasm of its membership.

And while she admits she faces a tough challenge leading from the front, Tracey wants to rely on the backing of every single person in business in Downpatrick.

She wants the profile of the county town “raised to a new level” and believes work to attract more visitors and shoppers, address traffic congestion and parking issues can produce a handsome dividend.

The businesswoman is looking forward to her new role and intends to call a public meeting early in the New Year to discuss the way forward.

“I want to start with a clean sheet of paper and want every business in Downpatrick to become involved with the work of the Chamber of Commerce. I believe we can achieve a lot by working together,” said Tracey.

“My heart and soul is in Downpatrick and one of my goals will be generating more life in the town centre. I want to work alongside the business community, listen to what it has to say and act upon it.”

Previous groups set up to provide a voice for the Downpatrick business community have suffered from a lack of support, with attendance figures only increasing when issues of concern arose.

Tracey hopes those who work in the retail and commercial sectors and those who provide a range of professional services will support the new Chamber.

“If we all work together and help one another we will be able to ride out the current economic recession. I want everyone to come on board as things are starting to happen.

“Potential funding of up to £300,000 is available from the Department for Social Development and Down Council for a variety of work, but the Chamber has to draw up a business plan detailing where and how this money can be spent. That’s why it’s vital all businesses are represented on the new body which exists to represent and support them.”

The new head of the new Chamber of Commerce said Downpatrick now “looks fantastic” following the completion of the £3m environmental improvement scheme.

“The business community needs to work together to further develop and promote what the town has to offer. The work that needs to be done must be shared among local traders and not left to two or three individuals.

“I want the business community to take ownership of initiatives we agree to take forward. We all need to help each other and with Christmas coming up we can work together along with Down Council to promote the town and encourage people to shop here.”

Tracey has also welcomed news that Market Lane — which was excluded from the environmental programme — is now to be upgraded and that talks are continuing about a multi-million pound plan to redevelop a huge area stretching from Rathkeltair House to The Grove shopping centre.

She continued: “I believe Downpatrick is a fantastic place and has a strong retail base which can grow and develop to the benefit of us all. More shoppers will mean enhanced business opportunities for everyone.