THE Chairman of Dungannon Regeneration Partnership (DRP) has promised traders and visitors to the town alike, that “exciting times” lie ahead with the commencement of the new Public Realm Scheme within months, as well as other initiatives which have been planned by the local economic development organisation.
Chris Morgan was speaking at the Mid-Ulster Business Awards 2012, which took place on the Hill of the O’Neill - Dungannon Council’s flagship tourism and arts facility - on Wednesday evening.
In attendance at the glittering ceremony was Minister for Regional Development, Danny Kennedy, as well as councillors and officials from Dungannon and Cookstown Councils, and business leaders from the Mid Ulster area.
Pointing to recent statistics which showed that one in four shops in Belfast, and one in five across Northern Ireland, are now vacant, Mr Morgan said it was positive news that Dungannon “bucks the trend” at 16% of the national average.
The DRP Chairman said: “The Dungannon area has been renowned for its indigenous businesses, and the strong entrepreneurial spirit of its people.
“They work hard and take risks; there is a real ‘can do’ attitude here in the Dungannon area, and, indeed, Dungannon Enterprise Centre now has more business advisers than ever. Last year saw 120 participants on the Go for It business start-up scheme.
“Dungannon Regeneration Partnership exemplifies that strong social enterprise motto in the area.
“Formed in 2000, over the last 12 years, its achievements have included the LOTS (Living Over The Shop) scheme, with 17 participants successful in getting people living in the town again.
“We have also been closely involved with the Town Centre Masterplan, which is a strategic view of the economic future of the town.
“The Public Realm Scheme will start within the next three to four months, so there are very exciting times ahead.”
Mr Morgan paid tribute to the work of the local Traders’ Association, which had succeeded in hosting 23 retailers at a major fashion show on the Hill of the O’Neill on Tuesday evening, attracting 450 fashion lovers to the event.
He also referred to £300,000 in grant aid to DRP for economic regeneration in Dungannon over the next three years, which, he said, would be used for a number of promotional events including the now flagship GannonBall Run, as well as schemes for local shops and businesses.
Acknowledging the DRP’s ethos of “the four P’s”, namely People, Places, Promotions and Product, Mr Morgan said the future held much promise for Dungannon in terms of economic success, adding: “We hope traders will stick with us, in Dungannon Regeneration Partnership, for the betterment of the town.”