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Newry Chamber of Commerce has spoke of the resillience of Newry's business community during a year when Covid-19 and Brexit combined to bring much uncertainty.

In a New Year Statement from Emma Marmion- Mullen, President of Newry Chamber of Commerce &Trade Ms Marmion-Mullen said “As a business community we look to 2021 with a mixture of uncertainty and optimism. Uncertainty about what the first few months might bring and hope that post Easter our economy will begin to pick up as the COVID-19 vaccine programme is rolled out across the community.

Hill Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Hill Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The Chamber President spoke of 2020 as a challenging year, particularly for the local hospitality and retail sectors. "The renowned resilience of the Newry business community was tested to the limit, but it is this resilience and unique spirit that in the long term will help rebuild our economy. " said Ms Marmion-Mullen.

While welcoming financial support from the Stormont Executive the President added "We need this to continue so that businesses have the stability to reopen their doors with confidence. We need the Executive to work with the UK Government to ensure the right financial support is in place post Easter to avoid a cliff edge for the many small businesses that will struggle to survive through the winter. When the time is right and it is safe to do so, the Executive through marketing and communications needs to encourage people back into our towns and cities.

“Our young people suffered significantly from the economic impact of COVI-19. The Executive’s support for the Apprenticeship Scheme was welcome but in 2021 we need to continue this investment and support in our young people. As a Chamber we will work with our schools and the education sector in 2021 to ensure our young people have the opportunities and skills to fulfil their career ambitions."

Following the end of the EU transition period  and with the UK now left the union Ms Marmion-Mullen hopes the agreed Free Trade Deal together with the Protocol, should lessen the impact on our local economy.

Emphasising the need for further support from government tje President said “Continuing government support is essential to help manage the change. Newry’s location and connectivity has contributed to the region’s growth and competitive advantage pre Covid-19. It is these advantages and our strong business base operating across, pharmaceuticals, finance/IT, construction and engineering that will help take advantage of the recovery when it begins.

“Investment in capital infrastructure also plays a strong role in rebuilding economies and creating jobs. The exciting plans outlined in the Belfast Region City Deal and the local Council’s regeneration plans have the potential to transform our region, attracting additional investment and creating jobs. It is important that 2021 is the year that the aspiration and ambition behind these plans is converted into real progress.

“As we look to 2021 Newry Chamber, as the voice for local business in the Greater Newry Area, will work hard to ensure Newry is and remains a place to do business and a place to invest in.”

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