The Journal says.... Creative solutions

We are often told about the wealth of creative talent in Derry and it is clear that we have certainly been punching above our weight in terms of the cultural impact people from this city have made across the world.

But that spirit creativity should not be confined to the cultural sphere. Now, more than ever it is needed in the business world.

A new report has revealed that almost one in five shops in Derry is now vacant. It will come as no surprise to everyone the city is in the grip of one of the worst recessions for many years but this is a staggering statistic.

For a city the size of Derry, without many large scale employers, retail should make up a high percentage of the job market. The huge difficulties faced by this sector highlight the seriousness of the employment situation in the city.

If we are to redress this problem than a creative approach is needed.

Next year, as Derry celebrates as City of Culture, new and unique opportunities for the retail sector will present themselves.

With a bit of creative thinking - and assistance from planners and local authorities - vacant city centre premises could be turned into cafes, fast food outlets, gift shops, information centres, etc., to meet the demands of the expected influx of tourists.

These may be short term solutions but it could help foster a much needed spirit of entrepreneurship in Derry which, in time, could help regenerate both the city centre and the wider local economy.