Cause for cheer
What’s not to like about these numbers?
£30m — the sum invested by Belfast City Council, Tourist Board and Europe to create a state-of-the art convention centre in Belfast.
400 — the number of jobs created in the construction of the new Convention Centre, going on site this summer, finishing in summer 2016.
25,000 — the number of additional conference visitors who will come to Belfast once the 4,000 sq metre centre is built.
£39m — the total amount of extra cash pumped into the Belfast economy as a result of the new convention centre.
The bottom line: the new convention centre, greenlighted this week at a ceremony in which I spoke alongside Alderman Gavin Robinson and Minister Arlene Foster, confirms the narrative of Belfast as a city on the rise.
But it’s not only the mega-projects which give me cause for cheer. Indeed, on Friday, I had the honour of cutting the ribbon on Belfast’s first Fashion Souk, an inspiring and intrepid venture by artists who have brought their design and fashion genius to the heart of Belfast. All 15 artrepreneurs are producing products grounded in green enterprise: upcycling items left in charity shops to create new home ornaments, turning kimonos into fetching dicky bows, making gift candles, painting Belfast in all its finest colours, making wedding dresses…and much more. Call along to check out the mesmerising Souk at the Spires Centre and see the potters, silversmiths, designers and stylists for yourself. There’s even a Flamenco dress maker!
Finally, raise a glass to the diversity of Belfast on this the first day of Chinese New Year of the Horse.
Gong Hei Fat Choi. Bliain úr mhaith. Happy New Year.