Newry Business Groups welcome Voice For Locals
Voice For Locals, a consortium launched in Northern Ireland to support businesses who want to level up their services after the challenges of the pandemic, has been welcomed to the area by Newry business groups including Newry Business Improvement District (BID) and Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade.
Voice For Locals, which was awarded £1.82m by the UK Community Renewal Fund, offers micro and small businesses a range of free skills, marketing and other services to aid their business’ recovery.
Over 1,400 businesses have enrolled to avail of the benefits, of which 250 businesses have innovated new processes in their business, and the goal is to certify 500 businesses over the coming weeks.
Following the success of transforming St George’s Market to trading online, working relationships have been established with many local councils, business improvement districts (BIDS), enterprise agencies and chambers of commerce across Northern Ireland.
Voice For Locals is all set to level up local businesses across the Newry area.
Welcoming the initiative Tony McKeown, Chief Executive Officer, Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade, said: “We are delighted to welcome Voice For Locals to Newry. This initiative aims to help micro and small businesses recover, rebuild and rebound post pandemic.
“Our members are facing a perfect storm of challenges including energy hikes, labour shortages, National Insurance increases and Covid-19.
“Newry is a vibrant economy with many small businesses showing the resilience and entrepreneurship associated with the area. There are many ways for small businesses to recover from the changes brought on by COVID-19 and we are keen to signpost our members to initiatives that allow business owners to increase their visibility and credibility, and boost profitability to mitigate growing costs.”
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Savage, added: “Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is committed to supporting our local businesses and is keen to work with key stakeholders to ensure the advancement of economic opportunities, both regionally and beyond.
“Innovation and growth go hand-in-hand and this initiative could kickstart many in embracing digital working practices, particularly at a time when how we all do business has changed. Voice for Locals offers a stimulating opportunity to aid the recovery of our business community, who are encouraged to participate.”
Jay Thattai, Founder and Steering Authority at Voice For Locals, said: “Newry Chamber is a priceless asset to the local business community, helping it navigate some of the hardest times ever faced. The Chamber’s objectives align perfectly with ours in that it wants to support members and help them rebuild and recover.
“We provide the digital tools for data driven business decisions and enable business owners to go digital with mobile apps, get marketed locally, get certified with e-learning courses endorsed by City & Guilds, and avail of personalised business and technology advice, to build a self-reliant economy in the wake of the pandemic.
“The levelling up initiative has been designed to address a number of challenges. At a local level, it allows engagement with a broader audience, on a more consistent basis, thanks to the Voice For Locals digital directory of all rated businesses across Northern Ireland, ni.voiceforlocals.co.uk. Meanwhile, with an expanded digital presence, local businesses can now tap into rest of the UK, Europe and world markets that would have otherwise been unattainable.”
Mr Thattai adds: “Each business will have a dedicated landing page with a business description, an enquiry button to generate leads, and pictures and videos featured in the Voice For Locals NI directory. Business owners will be given the tools to collect genuine customer ratings and reviews which will reflect online automatically, encouraging online shoppers to shop locally with confidence.
“This is a personalised small business success programme. A dedicated team is in place to provide mentoring until the business owners become self-reliant. It is completely free for one year and fully funded by the UK Government. The consortium, which includes firms Unloc Limited and TieTa UK, hopes to secure additional funding at the end of the twelve-month period, and support even more businesses across Newry as they navigate recovery post pandemic.”
This project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund. For further information log on to voiceforlocals.co.uk
Caption: Eamonn Connolly, Manager at Newry BID; Councillor Michael Savage, Chair of Newry Mourne & Down Council; Glyn Roberts, CEO of Retail NI and Tim McKane from Voice For Locals.