Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce today welcomed Hugh Black as the newly elected Chamber President.
Hugh is Commercial Director at Age NI and has carried out the role as Vice President of the Chamber over the past two years.
He replaces outgoing president Paul McMahon who served for two consecutive terms.
Handing over the chain at Friday’s AGM, Paul McMahon said: “The past two years as President have for me personally been among the most exciting and challenging yet also rewarding.
“Over the past two years, we have seen the business landscape of Belfast change. We are experiencing a renewed activity in the city with new retailers coming to Belfast and we are seeing more hotels being announced plus the demand for office premises is at an all time high.
“With the development of the University on the way, the physical landscape will literally change before our eyes. And change for the better.
“Belfast is the gateway to the rest of Northern Ireland and we are a litmus test for the whole economy. If Belfast is doing well, then so will the entire province.
“I know that Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce will continue to work very hard for its members and the wider population.
“As I slip into the background and continue my day job as Centre director at Castle Court, my resolve to help develop this city is undiminished.
Paul concluded: “I look forward to working with the newly elected Chamber President and to continue to help shape this great city to is maximum potential.”
Speaking after his election Mr Black said: “I am delighted to have taken over as President of the Chamber.
“Although to be honest, it does fill me with some trepidation – to follow in the footsteps of Paul.
“He has been a great President, a safe pair of hands during a very difficult time, and a man with a strong vision of what is best for Belfast.
“I want the Chamber to continue to grow and be influential in shaping the future of our great city.
“There will be very difficult days ahead – there is no point in saying otherwise. But I believe we are at the start of a new and exciting time for Belfast and indeed the whole of Northern Ireland – if we work hard and take the opportunities that arise.
Mr Black continued to say: “If the Northern Ireland economy was a human body, Belfast would be the heart. And we all know that a strong heart will keep the whole body healthy.
“I want to see a thriving and healthy Belfast but I also want our other cities and towns to grow in Northern Ireland as well.
“Here in Belfast we have a new super council that will hopefully take us to a new level of well-being. The Ulster Universityis be re-located to the centre of the city and we must push hard for the Royal Exchange development to get these off the ground, both o these projects will have a massive impact on the future success of Belfast.
“The Chamber now represents more than 400 business and professional people in the city.
“We are listened to by government and other agencies.
“The 50% rates reduction Belfast Chamber agreed with Stormont for new businesses taking over vacant units has been a terrific success. So much so, that it has now been copied across the UK and by the government.
“But we can do more.
“And I call today on our leaders to look at how rates incentives for new businesses can be rolled out across Northern Ireland.
“If we can be creative with something like rates, we can help to kick start the economy. Everyone wins.
“Belfast and Northern Ireland are now firmly on the world map as a must see destination.
“Massive cruise ships come into Belfast Lough, the incredible success of Game of Thrones has introduced us to a whole new range of people, the world of golf is in love with Northern Ireland.
“There are many more examples of what is good about living here, visiting here and doing business here.
Hugh concluded by saying: “As I take up this post today – on your behalf – I call on those in positions of power and responsibility to focus on the re-generation of Belfast. The heart of the Northern Ireland economy.”
The new president will be supported by the Executive Council elected unanimously, including: Michelle Jackson, Victoria Square, Rajesh Rana, Andras Hotels, Anne Higgins, Boots, Paul McMahon, CastleCourt, Chris Suitor, Suitor Menswear, Alana Coyle, CBRE, Steven Mewah, House of Frazer, John Lunn, Lunns, Niall McKenna,James Street South, Ken McCracken, Power NI, Christopher McCausland, Value Cabs, Victoria Nemec, Dorothy Perkins, Gordon McElroy, MKB, Gary Rocks, Donaghy& Carey and Liam Creagh, Red Box Media.
For further information about the work of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, please log on to: www.belfastctc.com or call 028 9024 2111.