Belfast Chamber is pleased to announce that Robert Walsh, former Commissioner of New York’s Department of Small Business Services, will address its BelFastForward on 27 February 2020

Robert will be the keynote speaker during the Conference’s ‘Process’ session which will examine how cities like Belfast have emerged from post-industrial or conflict pasts to reinvent themselves and thrive. Robert will tell the Conference about his experience in New York during the Bloomberg administration when innovative and creative ideas were used in successful regeneration schemes like the High Line and the transformation of Roosevelt Island into the Cornell Tech college campus.

Commenting, Robert Walsh said, “I believe that there are real parallels between the regeneration of New York City and what’s happening in Belfast. When Michael Bloomberg became Mayor in 2002, New York was in many ways a city on its knees. It was just after 9/11 and New York City was still very much in a crisis situation and the recovery was nothing short of miraculous. There are very clear similarities with Belfast as it continues to transform and grow after the Troubles.   It begins with leveraging the strengths of the city, establishing a vision and empowering action.

I will bring some of my experience as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development team to the BelFastForward Conference and share the lessons about how were able to engineer the creative and successful regeneration of places like Brooklyn.

In particular, I intend to focus on how New York City was able to harness the power of its universities and colleges to become economic drivers, how we adopted a ‘ground up’ approach by involving the city’s small businesses in our regeneration schemes and illustrate some of the processes around planning, financing and governance that New York put in place to make our ambitions a reality.

New York has much in common with Belfast and I am really looking forward to sharing my insights into how your city can expand its downtown residential space, activate your beautiful waterfront and leverage open space to achieve what we have in New York”.

BelFastForward will also hear from a range of other interesting and inspirational speakers who will address delegates on issues such as innovative mechanisms to drive forward regeneration projects, finance and delivery solutions to unlock potential development, public policy and processes including planning, the City Deal and how central and local government can work together with business and other city stakeholders to deliver change.

BelFastForward is an event for anyone interested in learning more about the unprecedented phase of growth, transition and regeneration that Belfast is undergoing. If you want to be part of the conversation and help shape a shared vision for the future of our city, book your tickets by visiting our website at