Voice for Locals, a consortium launched in Northern Ireland to support businesses wanting to level up their services after the challenges of the pandemic, has announced a partnership with Bangor Chamber of Commerce.
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.
The team has digitised over 230 local firms across Northern Ireland in the last 30 days and 71% of business owners have introduced new innovative processes to their ways of working.
Following the recent success of transforming St George’s Market in Belfast to online trading, Voice for Locals is all set to level up local businesses across the Bangor area in collaboration with local councils, town management, enterprise agencies and chambers of commerce.
Bangor Chamber of Commerce has a diverse range of members. It provides professional advice and gives a voice to the business sector in the local area.
“The Chamber is delighted to welcome Voice for Locals to Bangor to help micro and small businesses recover, rebuild and rebound post pandemic,” said Frank Shivers, vice president of Bangor Chamber of Commerce.
“Bangor is a wonderful place to live, visit and do business with its marina, coastal walks, vibrant independent businesses and excellent schools. Co Down’s famous seaside spot has also been named Northern Ireland’s newest city as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.
“The news means Bangor will join Belfast, Derry-Londonderry, Lisburn, Armagh and Newry in the exclusive club across Northern Ireland.
“Bangor is currently positioning itself to secure significant investments that will enable the city to embark on its most exciting and ambitious regeneration journey for many years.
“The Queen’s Parade development, combined with the council’s own plans to regenerate Bangor Waterfront, offers the potential for more than £110m of investment to come into the town over the next 10 years, delivering new attractions, accommodations and commercial opportunities.
“Now the empty shopping centre, The Flagship Centre in Bangor’s Main Street, is set for a major reboot after being sold in a multi-million-pound deal. There is every reason to look forward with hope and excitement.
“However, our members are facing a perfect storm of challenges including energy hikes, labour shortages, National Insurance increases and Covid-19.
“Bangor is a vibrant economy with many small businesses showing the resilience and entrepreneurship associated with the area and I would encourage all local businesses to register.
“It takes less than 10 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.”
Jay Thattai, founder and steering authority at Voice for Locals, said: “We are looking forward to working in partnership with Bangor Chamber. There are so many synergies and collective efforts yield better results than individual efforts.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Voice for Locals also recently secured partnerships with Newtownards Chamber of Trade and Ballymena Chamber of Commerce.