We have a new face at the head of Down Business Centre

Downpatrick-based Chartered Accountant Michael Morrissey, who has been a director of the organisation for the past six years, has been appointed as chair to lead the continued expansion of the charity group’s efforts to grow and support the area’s business sector.

Mr Morrissey is no stranger to providing help for local businesses. As a former finance directory of Crossgar Foodservice, he played a central role in establishing a £2m state-of-the-art food processing plant at Down Business Park and later oversaw its expansion and sale before setting up his own accountancy practice, Morrissey CA Limited, with wife Anne Marie. The practice has grown substantially and has been credited with attracting substantial Government support for many of its client companies.

Commenting on his appointment Mr Morrisey said he was committed to taking forward the new Strategy and Action Plan that has been developed for the organisation with a particular emphasis on supporting fledgling and established businesses in the area.

“These are difficult times for everyone in business,” said Mr Morrissey. “With rising energy costs, double-figure inflation and a what would appear to be a stalemate at local political level, everyone in business is entering unchartered waters as we move towards the Winter and 2023. As chair of the Business Centre I will be particularly focussed on how we can support the business community at a very practical, grassroots level. Sustainability will be a key theme of my chairmanship, seeking to highlight that climate change poses a threat to the economy, nature and society at large and that businesses can take action now by promoting sustainable practices with opportunities to reduce costs, secure funding and improve profitability.”

Mr Morrissey takes over the lead role from Linda Beers, the Saintfield-based owner of Inform Communications, one of Northern Ireland’s leading strategic communications, marketing, public affairs and event management consultancies. She has served as a director and trustee of the business centre for 15 years and was chair for two years before handing over the reins. She will remain with the company as head of marketing and personnel.

“I wish Michael every success,” said Ms Beers. “Much of my chairmanship was dominated by the Covid-19 crisis and particularly in ensuring that our business accommodation and support services for start-up and established businesses have been aligned to meeting the unique challenges that the local business community has had to face.”

She added: “The DBC executive team supported by the Board of Trustees have remained focussed throughout. I am very pleased to be handing over the mantle to Michael with the organisation in good financial health and ‘punching beyond it’s weight’ on so many programme and delivery fronts.”

The business centre has also announced the appointment of Downpatrick estate agent Ms Mary-Lou Press as its new vice-chair whilst one of its founding directors, Mr Joe McCoubrey, will continue as the organisation’s treasurer.