Noelle McAloon has recently been appointed as Manager of Enniskillen Business Improvement District (BID).
The Dromore woman was previously employed by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC), most recently as an Economic Development Officer.
During her time in that Council role, Mrs. McAloon worked with the Enniskillen BID Task Team – a group local business people who are voluntarily working on the project – to convince 82 per cent of Enniskillen businesses to vote Yes to Enniskillen BID.
She admits it was “a huge decision” to apply for the role of BID Manager, but, following her involvement and the passion she feels for the project, she “could not imagine anyone else” bringing it forward over the next five years.
A BID is an initiative where businesses come together to decide what improvements are needed in their area, above and beyond those governed by statutory provision.
Following the majority Yes vote in October, around 600 businesses in Enniskillen have received their levy bills from the Council. Legislation states the local authority must collect the money, which will then be managed by the BID which is a Limited Company. The levy is 1.5 per cent of the rateable value of a business and all businesses in the BID area must pay, even those which voted No. The money will be spent on new initiatives aimed at boosting footfall and improving trading in the town.
“When I was selling BID to local businesses, I was getting so passionate about it,” said Mrs. McAloon. “BID has got under my skin in the nicest possible way. I flung myself into BID so I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of someone else taking it forward.”
Besides her experience of working for FODC, Mrs. McAloon has previously worked with Fermanagh and Omagh Enterprise Agencies and with the local strategic partnership, which dealt with rural tourism funding. Outside of work, she sits on the Board of Directors for Dromore 2000 Ltd and Dromore Education and Community Partnership.
Since taking up her new role last Tuesday, Mrs. McAloon was pleased to learn that the Council has received “a number” of levy payments. She has been inundated with calls from local businesses and she is keen to hear from as many businesses as possible.
“I’ve had really productive meetings and phone calls about BID. People are telling me their ideas,” said Mrs. McAloon.
Aware that she is now ‘the face’ of Enniskillen BID, Mrs. McAloon appealed for businesses to get in touch. “Even if people are completely against BID, come and talk to me to find out what it’s about,” she said, adding: “I recognise that some people voted No. They are obviously feeling a bit confused but I think they will be confident after talking to me. I’ve had people say: ‘Now I’ve talked to you I’m no longer anti-BID,’” she reported.
Each BID lasts for five years, after which time another voting process takes place.
“I’m living in the here and now, but I think this will go on beyond the five years,” she stated.
Any levy payer can become a member of the BID company. At the AGM, any member can put themselves forward for nomination as Director of the BID company. There will be 13 Directors.
Over the five-year period, the BID business plan proposes to spend £265,000 on boosting business; £410,000 on enticing customers; and £200,000 on enhancing experience. The costings for the five-year business plan are £874,900 to be spent on the above initiatives, plus £266,000 in overheads; a total of £1.2 million.
“I am currently trying to formulate a detailed one year plan, with full costings, which will be based on our overall plan. That will be ready by mid-June,” Mrs. McAloon explained.
“It is important that BID is involved in the consultation ahead of the £5.2 million public realm scheme which is due to get underway over the next three years,” according to Mrs. McAloon. Her role will be to “be the voice of businesses” to ensure that the inevitable disruption will be kept to a minimum.
“I am nervous about that,” she admitted, adding: “But I’m more than willing to do the research on how other areas carried out their public realm schemes.”
Mrs. McAloon concluded: “There’s a good level of enthusiasm out there. We need all levy payers to get behind this.”
Mrs. McAloon can be contacted on 07738491832 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org