05/04/2004

Business membership figures show 'massive' increase

Figures released today by Belfast City Centre Management and the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce show a massive increase in the number of businesses joining their joint membership scheme.

The number of city centre businesses in the scheme has jumped 157% in the two years since the organisations formed their strategic alliance - with almost 500 businesses now fully signed up.

Belfast City Centre Manager Joanne Jennings explained the significance of the surge in membership: "Belfast City Centre Management is about partnership between all of Belfast's stakeholders - the City Council, those involved in public transport, the private sector and many others. Our strategic alliance with Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce was about strengthening that mix and giving more businesses a role in improving life in the city.

"This huge increase in membership is a vote of confidence for that spirit of partnership. It is also an endorsement of the work that we are doing in making the city cleaner, safer, more attractive, and more accessible. We intend to build on this progress and continue to work for a more positive experience for those working, living and visiting in Belfast."

President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce Mr Jim Fitzpatrick also sees the membership surge as a vote of confidence: "Businesses in Belfast are reacting well to our Strategic Alliance with BCCM. They realise that it gives us a framework to work closely with all the other agencies in Belfast, while at the same time retaining our independence.

"I am very pleased to see the level of growth we have enjoyed over the past two years, and remain convinced that this structure will continue to deliver for Belfast."

BCCM was established in 2000 and receives joint core funding from Belfast City Council and Belfast Regeneration Office.

The Strategic Alliance between BCCM and Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce was signed in April 2002.

(MB)

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