Posted on Saturday 9 April 2011 by Ulster Business

Ryan Williams and Bro McFerran

Ryan Williams and Bro McFerran

Businesses of all sizes are being encouraged to throw their support behind Derry-Londonderry as it prepares to become City of Culture 2013.

As it launched its official invitation for corporate support, Culture Company 2013 said the sponsorship strategy had been devised with all forms of business in mind – from global corporations to SMEs. Bro McFerran, Chairman of the Corporate Leadership Team put together to help deliver business support for City of Culture, told Ulster Business that local firms could help move the City forward and play a big part in delivering a legacy that lasts beyond 2013. "Our initial findings are that there is a lot of enthusiasm for it and certainly the bigger players are coming in. But one of the things I'm keen to do is get the SMEs fired up about the opportunities and to make sure they engage with it as well," he said. "We don't expect small businesses to get into this pro bono. Nor would they be doing it for intangible benefits. There is a lot of business that is going to be engaged around City of Culture and there could be opportunities for franchising, for promoting their products, and more," he said. "We anticipate there are going to be hundreds of jobs created because of this. There's going to be tens of millions flowing into the economy. There are fabulous opportunities for smaller businesses to get in on this and also create momentum with it, so this energises the whole city and gives them traction for the future." The city has ambitious plans to bring in additional revenue of over £100m, lever some 1,300 additional jobs, attract over 500,000 additional visitors, and reach over 145million people globally with some of the events relating to City of Culture 2013. Whether a company is looking for a short-term partnership for lead-up events in 2012, 2013 celebrations or a longer partnership over the legacy period of 2011-2015, the organisers believe the business case for any corporate involvement is strong. The sponsorship strategy, devised by Corporate Engagement Champion Ryan Williams, with intrinsic support from the 2013 Corporate Leadership Team, offers opportunities for Lead Partner, Themed Lead/Champion (of a particular sector) or association with an event, community, venue or participant sponsor. In addition there will be merchandising and licensing opportunities available across the programme. The City has already agreed its first commercial City of Culture partnership with BT who have committed to a five year, multi-million pound investment and sponsorship support. "In terms of the legacy we will have one of the best digitally connected cities in Europe, which leaves the potential to attract in a lot of revenue. This is very much not a one time thing," said Mr McFerran. "We don't want the cleaners to be coming in and sweeping up the bottles and cigarette butts and saying well, that was a good party. It has to be more than that." Mr McFerran said it made sense for his own company, technology firm Allstate NI, to get involved with an initiative that should help regenerate Derry because of its strong links with the region. Allstate has around 750 employees in the Northwest, around 250 specifically in Derry. The Allstate NI managing director also notes that City of Culture is also expected to attract lots of media attention, with the BBC, Channel 4, RTE and Sky Arts among the media organisations that have committed to giving events significant air time. Mr McFerran said the Corporate Engagement Team were drawing on the experience of Liverpool, which was UK City of Culture, and Glasgow, which was European City of Culture, to help understand the opportunities to generate revenue from Derry's City of Culture title. "We're not too proud to learn from them. We see it as our job to make everyone aware of what the opportunities are, what they would get in return for putting their hard earned money in to promote City of Culture," he explains. "What this should do is give Derry confidence is itself, it should put Derry on the map from a cultural and tourist point of view. It should attract inward investors to the area and give SME businesses a fillip as well. We'll need to do as much as we can to have subsequent events that make sure the spirit of the City of culture lives on, to keep the momentum going." For more information on how your business can get involved in supporting the City of Culture 2013 email the Corporate Engagement Team at sponsors@cityofculture2013.com

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