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Leading Global Bus Manufacturer Expands in Mid and East Antrim

L-R: Noel Mulholland, Head of Michelin Development UK, Manus Kelly, Andrew Henderson, Chris Burbage, Colin Davidson, Michael Todd, Adrian Robinson, Ricky Young, James McKergan, Darren McCormick (all ADL), and Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston

The UK’s largest bus and coach builder and one of the world’s leading manufacturers of double-decker buses has established a permanent base in Mid and East Antrim.

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) said its decision to locate to Silverwood Business Park in Ballymena was influenced by the ease of doing business and the “exceptional calibre of talent” in the Borough.

Part of international bus manufacturer NFI Group, ADL offers single and double deck buses under the Alexander Dennis brand as well as Plaxton coaches, with vehicles in service in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the United States.

As a pioneer in embracing the latest technology, ADL has brought a wide range of low, ultra-low and zero emission buses to market. The firm has more than tripled its revenue in the last ten years, with an increasing proportion resulting from its expanding international footprint.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, welcomed the growth of the company within Ballymena since their move here in November 2019, saying: 

“Mid and East Antrim has a strong, proactive Economic Development team offering a wide range of tailored support and assistance. As a Council, we are committed to doing everything we can to make the experience for companies who decide to locate here as seamless, fully supported and successful as possible, from start to finish.

“As already discovered by ADL, our rich pool of talent locally further strengthens our offering as an outstanding location.”

He added: “ADL’s history and heritage of design, engineering and manufacturing excellence spans more than a century and is an ideal fit for our Borough, with the added benefit of support through Michelin Development.”

James McKergan, Head of Engineering at ADL, attributes this success to the organisation’s clear strategic focus. 

“Our growth stems from our clear strategic focus to deliver lightweight, fuel efficient vehicles with industry-leading reliability and world-class aftermarket support,” he said.

Mr McKergan explained: “The Council could not have been more helpful and supportive in assisting us once we had taken the decision to set up in Ballymena.

“They put us in contact with key stakeholders from Michelin Development Ltd to discuss office space opportunities on their former site, and we quickly decided once we saw Silverwood that this was the ideal location for us.

“One of the benefits of our new office at Silverwood Business Park is that we have plenty of space, scope and ambition to grow the business. We already have 24 highly skilled and well-paid engineering roles based here and have strong ambitions to grow our headcount further, with plans to recruit for other non-engineering roles in due course.

“We have found that Mid and East Antrim is a fantastic place in which to do business – not least because having a permanent base here enables us to have access to the exceptional calibre of talent we have discovered in the local labour market.”

ADL’s move to Silverwood Business Park was supported by Michelin Development Ltd, which provides development funding to help boost economic growth.

Noel Mulholland, Head of Michelin Development UK, said: 

“Michelin Development is delighted to have been able to support ADL to set up in Silverwood Business Park, formerly a Michelin manufacturing site. This move helps to build on the bus building expertise that has been associated with the area for so long and provides exciting job opportunities for local people across the Borough.”

Small and medium sized businesses in the County Antrim area, excluding Belfast, operating in manufacturing or business-to-business sectors, are eligible to apply to Michelin Development for unsecured and subsidised loans to support a viable business plan that will create sustainable jobs. 

Grants are also available to attract inward investment from international businesses with a viable expansion proposition to create sustainable jobs in the Ballymena area.


Murphy Announces Business Rates Revaluation

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has today announced a revaluation of all 74,750 non-domestic properties, delivering on his commitment for more frequent revaluations here.

Known as ‘Reval2023’, this process will result in a new non-domestic Valuation List being used to calculate business rate bills from April 2023.

Announcing the revaluation, Minister Murphy said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the economy resulting in changes between business sectors and this will feed through to changes to the rental values of many properties.

“Although the last revaluation was just over a year ago in 2020, I have asked Land & Property Services to bring forward another revaluation in the shortest possible time.

“Reval2023 will maintain fairness and ensure businesses are paying rates which take account of the impact of the pandemic.”

Commenting on support provided to businesses, Minister Murphy added: “Since April 2020, I have provided over £500 million of additional business rates support, with many businesses paying no rates at all over two years. The Executive has also provided significant financial support to businesses in the form of grants.

“As we look ahead to economic recovery and given the large scale of a revaluation it is important this work gets underway now.”

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises including shops, offices, warehouses, factories, hotels and pubs as well as utilities such as gas, water, electricity and wind farms.

Land & Property Services will begin collecting property information from business ratepayers later this year. This important information will form a database of new rental values as at 1 October 2021, instead of the current 2018 values, and will be used in assessing new rateable values for every property.

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Town and City Centre Investment Helping Thousands of Businesses in Their Recovery

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is pictured with Bryan Graham of Graham’s of Enniskillen who availed of Covid-19 Revitalise funding for his business to purchase new sanitizing stations and protective screens.

A £19.3million funding programme to support town and city centres recover from the impact of Covid-19 has helped thousands of businesses across councils, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said. 

Launched in August 2020, initial funding for the Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme was for measures such as shop frontage and awnings/canopies; outdoor furniture; heaters and queueing systems. More recently the funding support longer term initiatives such as the creation of cycle paths and pedestrian walkways to encourage car-free shopping, small environmental improvements and the use of open space and vacant premises to provide safe facilities.

Total funding for the scheme was made up of £12million from the Department for Communities, £5million from the Department for Infrastructure and £2.3million from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

Speaking after visiting business in Enniskillen who availed of the funding Minister Hargey said: “The Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme is an excellent example of collaborative working and was created to help and support our urban and rural businesses deal with the impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In total the funding has supported over 3,000 businesses across the north which has helped them to reopen safely. The funding has also been used to encourage people back into our towns and city centres to spend time, to support our local businesses and ultimately to help keep our town and city centres alive and prosperous.

“It has delivered funding of £1.29million to Fermanagh & Omagh District Council to support a range of projects including grants to support businesses across the entire Council area as they prepared a pathway out of lockdown by assisting them to provide a safer shopping experience for all their customers. I was pleased to see at first hand today how some of this support has been received by businesses in Enniskillen.”

Cllr. Chris McCaffrey (Vice Chairperson) Fermanagh & Omagh District Council added: “Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to working in partnership to improve the lives of all the people of the district and this approach has delivered tangible benefits making the district an attractive place to live, work and visit.    

The Council has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Department for Communities over a number of years and it is a partnership we look forward to continuing to develop into the future for the benefit of our businesses and the wider community.   

The £1.2million funding through the Covid-19 Business Recovery and Revitalisation Grant Aid Scheme has been used to support businesses to respond to the impacts of the Covid-19 health pandemic, to encourage people to support local to aid economic recovery and to deliver schemes which will promote and revitalise our town centres.  

The Council will continue to work with the Department for Communities and other partners to provide assistance to local businesses and aid the recovery of the district into the future.”

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