independent

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Sligo to aim for 'gold standard' town centre

Published 11/03/2014 | 05:40

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A busy O’Connell St in Sligo

We've all heard of Blue Flags for beaches. Now come Purple Flags for town centres.

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And Sligo has already started its application.

Town Centre Co-ordinator Gail McGibbon told last Wednesday night's borough council meeting the purple flag was "the gold standard" for town centres at night.

She said: "It denotes a safe, family-friendly, clean, evening environment."

This is just one of an array of initiatives being undertaken by the Sligo Business District Project.

And Ms McGibbon, a native of Wine Street, told councillors Sligo was the only town in Ireland that had secured funding – £250,000stg – for its entire programme.

The money comes from the INTERREG IVA Programme for Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland.

It's a European Union supported Structural Funds Programme which address the economic and social problems which result from the existence of borders.

Ms McGibbon is an internationally experienced professional in sales and marketing.

She won the 18-month independent contract to coordinate the Sligo Business District Project, which is facilitated by the borough council.

Her background is in business development, revenue generation, strategic planning, events and sponsorship.

County Manager Ciaran Hayes described the Business District project as "important in the context of the overall development of Sligo."

Referring to the need for economic data and information on business in Sligo, he added: "We have to look at how Sligo gets an advantage over other areas and it has to be evidence-based."

In a presentation to councillors, Ms McGibbon said the Sligo Business District Project would:

* Set up a data base;

* Access pedestrian footfall;

* Conduct business and user surveys;

* Establish a vision for Sligo;

* Develop a business plan;

* Set out a communications strategy;

* Develop a funding strategy;

* Establish a partnership network;

* Host a final conference.

Ms McGibbon said the Sligo Business District Project had met with more than 30 organisations in Sligo.

It had conducted two workshops with local businesses.

It had also prepared tenders for market research and promoting Sligo through mobile application.

In relation to the Fleadh in August, she spoke of the number of first-time visitors – and potential repeat visitors.

She said: "We need to work with local business to capitalise on commercial business opportunities."

She pointed out that 38 local businesses were employing 532 people across a small section of Sligo town.

She also told councillors: "By 2016, 45 per cent of the world's population will be on smart phones.

"How prepared is Sligo to enter into that arena?

"Our phones are with us 22 out of 24 hours every day.

"71% of people on Facebook are connected to a local business page in Ireland."

Sligo Champion

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