Cllr Seán McPeake, President of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) welcomed Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir's call for local businesses to avail of the Back in Business initiative, with a 50% rate reduction for up to a year for businesses in a retail property that was previously empty.
Cllr McPeake said: “Our high streets are a visible indicator of the health of the local economy. They are vitally important centres of social interaction, employment and commerce, but after years of fragility, and with the recent recession, many local towns and high streets risk losing the real social and economic benefits that family businesses have provided for centuries.
“The Back in Business initiative announced by the Finance Minister is one innovative response to the challenge facing our local high streets and town centres in their need to adapt to meet the changing needs of the consumer. This is at a time when out-of-town shopping centres, internet sales and ‘m-commerce’ – sales over mobile devices, are all on the rise. Key to local regeneration is strong political leadership and partnership working between local authorities, the NI Executive, developers, local businesses and our social economy. NILGA continues to develop new investment for local councils, in practical partnership with government and bodies like the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Hospitality Ulster. It's vital we revitalise our local economies".