The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce held its AGM at its Hawkins Street offices on Wednesday evening.
Chamber members were told that membership had increased and that it had increased its political influence and strengthened its public profile.
Chief Executive of the Chamber Sinead McLaughlin said: “Membership of the Chamber has increased by a quarter in the last three years, during the worst financial crisis in our lifetime. This demonstrates very clearly that old and new members see the Chamber as providing services that help them survive the recession. We do that through our networking events and by enabling members to benefit from valuable services, such as how to improve their ability to export.
“Just as important, the Chamber has spoken with a powerful voice. We do that by meeting privately with the most influential people in Northern Ireland – which means both the devolved ministers and the Secretary of State. We thank them for their willingness to meet with us and to listen to us.”
President of the Chamber Philip Gilliland added: “The Chamber makes the case for the North West both loudly and, if I may be allowed to say it on behalf of the Chamber, eloquently. We try to avoid complaining, but we are unapologetic in explaining that the Executive needs to support local enterprise and innovation in the North West by investing in our region to enable our economy to grow. In that way, our economy strengthens, unemployment reduces and tax revenues increase, benefiting both the Executive and the UK Government.
“It is for these reasons that the Chamber has actively campaigned for those investments that will generate the strongest returns for the North West and for Northern Ireland. These are the substantial expansion of the University of Ulster’s Magee campus, the upgrading of the A6 to appropriate inter-city standard and improvements to the Derry-Belfast rail line. It goes without saying that we also support ministers continued efforts to get the improved A5 built.
“We thank ministers and their departments for their investments over recent years that have delivered the City of Culture designation, the Peace Bridge, the Guildhall renovation, the new piazza at Guildhall Square, the improved riverside walk and cycle ways and the first stage in the upgrade of the rail line. These investments have made Derry feel like a different city – in fact, our city has become a different city. I am very proud that the Chamber has played a significant role in making our city a better place.”Notes:
Philip Gilliland continues in his role as President, which covers a two year period. Gavin Killeen of NuPrint becomes an additional Vice President. Jennifer McKeever of Airporter becomes a Chamber director.