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£3m business and recreation centre officially opened in Ballymena

Published on:  15 Sep 2006

Alderman James Alexander, Mayor of Ballymena Borough Council has officially opened a £2.9 million community development resource centre in Ballymena.

Situated on the Cushendall Road, the new multi-purpose centre, which has been developed by Ballymena North Partnership Ltd, will provide workspace of 800 sq metres for business development and community facilities including a reception area, meeting and training rooms, a day care facility, and four court sports hall.

The project has been funded by Ballymena Borough Council, the International Fund for Ireland, the Sports Council Lottery Fund, the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment under EU PEACE II and Ballymena Local Strategy Partnership.

Speaking at the official opening Alderman James Alexander, Mayor of Ballymena Borough Council said: “Today marks the culmination of many years developmental and consultation work by Ballymena Borough Council, in partnership with representatives from local community and voluntary organisations, and other statutory agencies to address the environmental, social and economic issues of this area.  I congratulate Ballymena North Partnership Ltd. on its achievements to date and wish it every success with running this facility as a social economy enterprise.”

Alexander Smith, Joint Director General of the International Fund for Ireland, which funded the business centre, was present to officially declare the offices and training rooms open.

He said: “We are delighted to have been able to assist with the construction of community meeting rooms and office space for up to 7 businesses and are confident this will have a major impact on job creation in the local area. The Dunclug Ward is considered a disadvantaged area of North Ballymena and it is hoped the centre will act as a stimulus for further economic development in the area.”
Noel Lavery, Deputy Secretary, DETI, said: “The economic revitalisation measure of the Peace II programme provides financial assistance which aims to  support the economic transition of NI to a more stable, peaceful and prosperous society.  This is demonstrated through the construction of workspace units such as we see here today. This investment, with assistance totalling £276,300 of  EU funding, will help stimulate growth, develop potential, create jobs and facilitate skills acquisition.  In this way, it will contribute towards increased investment and employment opportunities for the people of Ballymena”.

Mr Arthur Crowe Chairman of Ballymena Strategy Partnership highlighted the benefits that the childcare facility will bring to the local area. ‘It will enable parents to take advantage of training opportunities, further their education or secure employment. For the children in this community it will offer the best possible start in life and for that reason we are delighted to have supported this initiative’.

Speaking at the opening of the sports centre, Brian McCargo, Member of the Sports Council for Northern Ireland said: “The Sports Council for Northern Ireland is delighted to be opening a brand new four court sports hall as part of the community resource centre developed by Ballymena North Partnership.  The sports facility will provide all of the community with a first-rate facility to participate in many different areas of sport and to develop their skills.”

Frank McArdle, Chairman of Ballymena North Partnership said: “ This centre has taken two years to construct but it has been 10 years since the idea was first discussed within the local community and it gives me great pride to see the building open and being used.  I would like to extend thanks to all those who have helped us make our visions a reality”.

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