Six-point plan unveiled as Rajesh back for second term as Belfast Chamber president

Re-elected Chamber president Rajesh Rana with senior vice-presidents Christopher McCausland and Michael Stewart, and junior vice-presidents Anne McMullan and Anthony Best. Photo: Phil Smyth
Gary McDonald Business Editor

BELFAST hotelier Rajesh Rana is back at the helm of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce.

He has been elected for a second term as president, and has launched a six-point plan for the year ahead.

Rajesh said: “Belfast is at a turning point and this plan drives our ambitions to promote investment in our city and support local businesses.

“Firstly, we will redouble our focus on lobbying on behalf of all businesses to address issues and progress opportunities they encounter.

“We will help to make Belfast a business-friendly environment through stronger links with the City Council, government departments and other agencies, to help them understand the importance of business.

“We brought a trade delegation to New York this June and we plan to grow our international connections with partner cities and regions.

“We also have plans to hold an International Conference on the Vision for Belfast, which will be held in February 2020.

“Our ambition is to grow membership to 1,000. This will allow us to refocus and strengthen our plans for making this city even greater.

He added: “And we are now in the final recruitment stages of appointing a chief executive for Belfast Chamber which will give the organisation the strength and depth to deliver its ambitions.

“Belfast has a great future ahead of it. The Chamber has a key role to play in delivering that future, and I'm proud to play my part in delivering that strategy for the coming year.”

Speaking at the organisation's annual general meeting, Rajesh reflected on a milestone last year for the Chamber.

He said: “It's been a busy year and I'm proud that alongside our executive council we have faced the challenge presented by the Bank Buildings fire and made our commitment to giving a voice to retailers, restaurateurs and all businesses affected to support Belfast in this period.

“Our membership has grown by 25 per cent, with new businesses joining from tech, professional services, hospitality and retail. We have start-ups joining alongside multi-national corporations and that is down to the relationships we have formed with our senior decision makers and the strides we have made on behalf of our members."

He thanked members who attended the recent trade delegation to New York and said “It was a privilege to meet our counterparts in the business and government community in that great city.

“We had start-ups, major enterprises and long-established family business who embraced the trip wholeheartedly and represented our city so well."

The new president will be supported by the executive council elected unanimously, including: Christopher McCausland, Value Cabs (senior vice-president), Michael Stewart, House Belfast (senior vice-president), Anne McMullan, Visit Belfast (junior vice-president), Anthony Best, Lacuna Developments (junior vice-president), Les Hume, Dawsons Music (secretary), Peter Legge, Grant Thornton (treasurer), Michelle Greeves (immediate past president) and Gordon McElroy, MKB Law (past president).

These senior roles will be joined by Council members Norman Maynes (Translink), Damien Toner (Queen's University), Alana Coyle (CBRE), Stephen Mewha, (House of Fraser), John Lunn, (Lunn's), Aileen McGroggan (Boots), Andrew Irvine (East Belfast Mission), Mark O'Brien (Bank of Ireland), Richard McMullan (Aurelius Advisory) and Gavin Annon (Mount Charles).

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