Chief Executive highlights an increase in necessity entrepreneurship in the area

A recent report predicting which areas of the country will be the first to recover from recession has forecast a bleak outlook for West Tyrone.

Oxford Economics, one of the world’s leading financial forecasting and research consultancies, have placed Omagh near the bottom of a list of 406 district councils across Britain and Northern Ireland, ranking which are most likely to remain in recession longest.

Despite a series of multi-million pound commercial and capital projects planned for the local area, the recovery index, which ranks the Strabane district firmly at the bottom of the heap, has placed the Omagh district at 369 on the list. The study utilises a series of criteria including employment, demand for labour, desirability, attractiveness and enterprise to determine the list.

Chief executive of Omagh Enterprise Company Nick O’Shiel, who help local entrepreneurs establish their own business, described his surprise at the bleak outlook for the area.

“I’m surprised from the point of view that I know what is going on here and what’s being planned for Omagh. You would wonder the level of knowledge they have about the area,” he said.

Mr O’Shiel revealed that Omagh Enterprise Centre is set to undergo a 14,000 square foot expansion in the next few months in response to demand for space for new start-up businesses in the local area.

Against the backdrop of job losses and recession, the enterprise chief has acknowledged the growing phenomena of “necessity entrepreneurship”, where someone after losing their job, use their skills to start their own business.

“These are small businesses but they are examples of businesses getting on, they have orders, customers and are busy at what they are doing. There are areas of the economy which are ticking along nicely,” he said, pointing to the strength of the export sector locally.

Highlighting a series of projects planned for Omagh, including the

Lisanelly Education Campus, the new enhanced local hospital, as well as the A5 dual carriageway south of Omagh, chairman of Omagh District Council Frankie Donnelly said the council is actively involved in aiding businesses through a series of innovation programmes and funding projects “to work through these turbulent times”.

“The council, as civic leader in the district, is also lobbying for the protection of Omagh as a centre for public administration and public sector jobs, and for further de-centralising of public sector jobs to add to the employment base here.”

Pointing to local capital projects, including the refurbishment of Omagh  Leisure Complex and the Riverside Walkway and Cycle Path, Cllr Donnelly added, “Much more work would be needed, both globally and regionally, to  move the economy out of recession but, by working together locally in partnership this would be achieved more quickly.”