Director of Business and Culture at Derry City and Strabane District Council and North West Leadership Team, Business in the Community

Stephen Gillespie is the Director of Business and Culture at Derry City and Strabane District Council. The Business and Culture directorate encompasses a range of services the local Council provides such as economic development and job creation, business support and engagement, ICT, tourism, arts and culture, visitor services, heritage and museums and marketing and communications.

Stephen believes that the Local Government Reform provided a unique opportunity to improve the way local Councils delivered services for their stakeholders. ‘The organisational structure for this Council now enables us to better serve the needs of our ratepayers. It has been an exciting time with the business element and due to the strands of funding that became available, we have been working towards increasing employment opportunities and economic growth by creating new business start-ups, supporting businesses and delivering visitor growth as a destination of choice. The Strategic Growth Plan launched in 2017 is a crucial blue print for the way forward. This was developed following extensive consultations and will help shape our Council area for years to come’.

Stephen believes the cultural/tourism aspect of his directorate has an important role to play for tackling exclusion and disadvantage in Derry City and Strabane District ‘This Council area has a myriad of culture based talents, we are a creative and innovative community that lead the way in a range of sectors. We have proved through a range of tourism initiatives and projects, including City of Culture 2013 and the Foyle Maritime Festival that we can perform on a world stage and we need to capitalise on our strengths leading the way in creative and innovative industries to create sectors, which generate wealth for our residents and further enhance the offering to potential investors.’

Although originally from Belfast, Stephen has spent all of his working life in Derry, initially qualifying as an accountant with Desmond and Sons before becoming the Financial Controller of Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners.

Married with two children, when not working or with his family, Stephen would devote a lot of his spare time to playing and coaching both football and badminton. On a personal level the development of youth through sport has always been very important.