Presidential Address

Omagh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Annual General Meeting

22 June 2010
Presidential Address
(Loraine Griffin)

I want to thank Gerard O’Hanlon as the outgoing President of Omagh Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Gerard has worked very hard over the past year. I congratulate and thank him for his achievements and dedication to the Chamber.

The role of President is a very tough one and I hope to do it justice. During this year I intend to continue implementing the current business plan which is primarily focused on building our membership and Lobbying to strengthen the business voice for the area. Omagh Chamber of Commerce and Industry does what it does through lobbying, creating a strong voice for Omagh and developing networks and contacts throughout all levels of government and the business sector. At the heart of this is the Chamber Council which usually meets at 5:30pm on the 2nd Tuesday of every month in Omagh Enterprise Centre.

We also have a range of sub-committees designed to tackle specific issues such as Membership, Lobbying and a new one – Social and Networking. We have been through tough times economically for a while now. It’s very clear that tough times are still ahead and we must not kid ourselves about that. We can’t change the direction of the wind but we can adjust our sails to reach our destination. So its not all negative, in fact we have so much to be positive about. The Review of Public Administration has been delayed but this gives us more time and opportunity to create our future, secure better public services and attract more employment. Better still, on a rough estimate, there is over £2bn worth of investment coming to the Omagh area. I intend to ensure that OCCI not only concentrates on important local issues but also that we are fully prepared to utilise the opportunities and vast potential ahead.
It is my intention to maintain the momentum of several important strategic projects – just a few examples include:

  • A5 Western Transport Corridor – a new dual carriageway that will make Omagh a true hub for the South West region;
  • Project Kelvin – linking us up to a high speed Broadband highway;
  • A new hospital;
  • The unique Education Village at Lisanelly;
  • Several new interconnected business parks with hotel, retail and leisure facilities;
  • A major Town Centre Masterplan.

Each of these brings huge benefit to our District in themselves but when you consider the job creation, inward investment, added value, spin-offs and future possibilities – it really is truly transformational and mind-blowing. Omagh has changed dramatically in the past 5 years alone, just think how our District could look in another 5 or even 10 years time. The Chamber of Commerce is Omagh’s networking and business voice and it will be a key force working for Omagh’s future success. It’s so easy to complain from the outside but if you’re not working as part of the solution, or at least offering possible solutions, then really you’re just another brick in the wall. That is why I want to appeal to all local Traders and business people from all sectors and backgrounds in the District to join Omagh Chamber – together we must work to create a better future for the whole area.

I welcome Elaine Fyffe as our new Membership Officer. Elaine has been actively working to promote and support the Chamber and build on our membership. I have no doubt that Elaine will do an excellent job, its great for the Chamber to have her on board and she will keep us right over the next 12 months and hopefully well beyond. Elaine has Membership Packs with her tonight and she can be contacted at the Chamber Office in Omagh Enterprise Centre. If you are not a member I strongly encourage you to join, and if you are a member why not join the Chamber Council or one of our sub-committees. Membership of Omagh Chamber is open, you do not need to be asked in order join, we are not an elitist organisation and our members come from a truly diverse range of backgrounds. Before I finish, I just want to mention a note of thanks to Elaine for organising this AGM and the staff of Rue who have done a sterling job hosting this event. It must be said that the Main Street Entertainment quarter – which was not here 5 years ago – is one of many excellent examples of local business, trade and enterprise our town has to offer. I want to now leave you with a Barry McGuigan quote that I have been saying a lot to people recently to give them a much needed uplift, and I truly believe this:

“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”