Managing Director of O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Ltd, Kieran Kennedy, has been appointed as the new Chair of the Strabane BID.
He takes over from local publican Michael Kelly who will remain in a supporting role as Deputy Chair.
The Strabane Business Improvement District BID is an initiative where businesses in the town work together and invest collectively in local improvements to the business environment.
It has been leading the way in raising the profile of Strabane Town since its formation three years ago.
In 2019, it worked collaboratively with Council, Department for Communities and the wider business community in delivering an additional £30,000 investment in town centre improvements.
The BID also delivered the hugely successful Shop Local Gift Card initiative resulting in over £30,000 in sales for local businesses and is currently working on an ambitious Arts, Culture and Events programme for 2020.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councilor Michaela Boyle, welcomed the appointment and paid tribute to the outgoing Chair: “I would like to congratulate Kieran Kennedy and wish him well in his new role.
“His vast experience of exceling in business at local, national and international level ensures he is the ideal figure to lead the collective work of the Strabane BID to increase footfall for traders and bring more visitors to the town.
“The BID has allowed local traders to work collectively to enhance the town’s retail offering through effective joint initiatives.
“Michael Kelly has been a member of the BID Board since its inception in 2016 and has played a key role in guiding its growth and attracting new member/
“On behalf of all the BID Businesses I would like to thank Michael for his dedicated work and I’m sure his experience will be invaluable to Kieran as his Deputy Chair.”
With a workforce of over 750 people, O’Neills are Strabane’s largest employer and specialise in the manufacture of high-end sportswear, licenced apparel and merchandise
Mr Kennedy said he was looking forward to the challenge of helping Strabane realise its full economic potential.
“Since becoming manager of O’Neills in 1988, my main objective has always been to promote employment and encourage economic growth within the Council area.
“For too long Strabane has been referred to as the economic blackspot of Europe, my mission has always been to meaningfully tackle this stigma.
“I fully intend to ensure our local traders are supported and get full value for money for their BID levy.
“I would like to commend Derry City and Strabane District Council for their ongoing support and efforts in facilitating this initiative to revitalise the town centre of Strabane.
“I firmly believe that the current board bring a wide range of skills and experience to the table, the role of Chair is a challenging one but following the mid-term review of the Strabane BID in late 2019, we now have a clear forward focus. “Communication and meaningful engagement will be key to ensuring businesses are listened to and their feedback is incorporated within the wider plan.
“This will enhance buy-in and benefit the whole town centre, we are currently in the process of recruiting a Strabane Town Centre Development Manager, this will be the catalyst to ensuring success for BID going forward.”