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New York's Commissioner of Small Business Services, Rob Walsh, visited Belfast recently to take part in a major economic conference organized by the Belfast Media Group.

Walsh was guest of honor at the "One City Conference," a civic summit designed to unlock the potential of Belfast for its future citizens.

The conference was held over two days days at Cultúrlann McAdam-Ó Fiaich in the heart of the city's Gaeltacht Quarter and in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast city center.

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During his visit, Commissioner Walsh met with a broad cross-section of representatives from Belfast's business, political and community sectors including two Northern Ireland Assembly ministers, the Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy, and the Minster for Social Development, Alex Attwood.

Commissioner Walsh also had the chance to speak to several small business traders in the south and west of the city to talk about strategies to help alleviate the affects of the current recession in Northern Ireland.

Speaking during the conference, Walsh praised the work of the New York City Department of Small Business Services in helping his city's business sector. He cited the success of his department'sBusiness Improvement Districts scheme in helping to turn the fortunes of the small business community around.

"Small business is the backbone of New York City," said Walsh.

"Creating a Business Improvement District in Belfast would make all the difference in the world to this city's economy. In New York City there is a network of 64 BIDS delivering over £100 million in supplementary services across the five boroughs of the city.

"The time is now to do that in Belfast and do it in a faster and streamlined way," he told conference delegates.

The Irish Echo will be hosting its own Top 50 Irish Small Business event at Rosie O'Grady's in Manhattan on Friday, April 15.