Strabane BID announces partnership with Voice For Locals

Strabane BID announces partnership with Voice For Locals
Picture by Philip Magowan / Press Eye

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 announced a partnership with Strabane Business Improvement District (BID).

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.

More than 1,400 businesses have enrolled to avail of the benefits, of which 250 businesses have innovated new processes in their business, and over 500 businesses are to be certified in August.

Following the success of transforming St George’s Market to trading online and sponsoring High Street Heroes NI – a campaign from Retail NI and supported by Voice for Locals – 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 Strabane area. Kieran Kennedy, Chair, Strabane BID, said: “Strabane BID is delighted to welcome Voice For Locals to help micro and small businesses recover, rebuild and rebound post pandemic. There are a lot of small and micro businesses, in addition to independent stores in this area.

“Our members are facing a perfect storm of challenges including energy hikes, labour shortages, National Insurance increases and Covid-19. The prices of many commodities are soaring and the cost of doing business is rising. Now is the time for businesses to look at new and innovative ways to secure and grow their business.”

“I welcome this free initiative for business to avail of modern technology to assist in post pandemic and cost of living recovery. It takes less than ten minutes to sign up and I am confident Voice For Locals will allow business owners to increase their visibility and credibility, and boost profitability to mitigate growing costs.”

Emma McGill, Strabane Town Centre Development Manager, added: “It’s incredibly important that we do everything we can to support our local businesses at this time. Strabane is proud to have a large number of independents and this project provides an ideal opportunity for these businesses to engage with their existing customers, attract new customers and grow sales, all whilst promoting footfall into their premises.

“The potential here is significant for businesses to recover and rebuild and we are delighted to be part of the driving force behind that.”

Jay Thattai, Founder and Steering Authority at Voice For Locals, said: “We are looking forward to working in partnership with Strabane BID. There are so many synergies and collective efforts yield better results than individual efforts. The membership organisation is a priceless asset to the local business community, helping it navigate some of the hardest times ever faced. The BID’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, 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 and fully funded by the UK Government. The consortium, which includes firms Unloc Limited and TieTa UK, hopes to support even more businesses in Strabane as they navigate recovery post pandemic.”

The consortium’s tender win for the project makes it the recipient of the fifth largest grant in the UK and the largest in Northern Ireland. Unloc will provide the technology, marketing and skills development element of the offering while TieTa will offer business and technical support. The team is working closely with City & Guilds to gain recognition for e-learning programmes delivered to local businesses throughout the scheme’s duration.

This project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund. For further information log on to

Caption: Aidan O’Kane, President, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce; Michael Kelly, Vice Chair, Strabane BID and Jay Thattai, Founder and Steering Authority, Voice For Locals.