Enterprise Minister turns sod at £2.3million Omagh Innovation Growth Centre

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster today led a sod turning ceremony to begin construction of a new Innovation Growth Centre at Omagh Enterprise Company (OEC). The new facility has the potential to create around 200 new jobs.

When constructed, the new high-tech centre will form an integral part of the Irish Central Border Areas Network’s (ICBAN) Innovation Enterprise Programme (IEP). It will also, provide a technology focused business environment to support growth companies and allow progression from OEC’s Technology Incubation & Resource Centre which was opened in 2005. The IEP which began in September 2010, has been supported with nearly £2.3million of financial assistance from European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Speaking at Omagh Enterprise Company, Arlene Foster said: “Today’s sod turning ceremony marks the official start of construction works of the exciting new technology enabled Innovation Growth Centre.

“I am especially pleased that we have been able to provide just over £2million towards the project through the INTERREG Programme. When completed, this new centre will provide the region with high quality, technology focused workspace which will complement the existing provision here at Omagh Enterprise Company.

“Job creation and the stimulation of private enterprise are crucial in driving forward our economic recovery in Northern Ireland. Projects like this, which create jobs, grow businesses and capitalise on our existing skills and infrastructure base in Northern Ireland, are particularly welcome.”

Expressing her support for initiatives that seek to enhance the economic infrastructure of Northern Ireland and create jobs, the Minister added: “It is envisaged that the new centre will support the creation of at least 200 new jobs in Northern Ireland and the ROI. In addition, the IEP project has been developed to help tenant companies increase their turnover during the three year life of the project.”

Commenting on the project Lorraine McCourt, Director Joint Technical Secretariat with the SEUPB, said: “Upon completion this new facility will play an important role in helping to strengthen the local economy on both sides of the border. It is part of the innovative cross-border focused Innovation and Enterprise Programme, which has been designed to enhance the performance and competitiveness of businesses based in Omagh, Leitrim and the larger ICBAN area.

“Investment in hi-tech business infrastructure that enhances local enterprise development is one of the key objectives of the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme. This project is a testament to that goal.”

Welcoming guests to the event, Cllr Errol Thompson, Chairman, Omagh District Council, said: “The commencement of the construction phase will create in the short term much needed construction work in Omagh, at a time when there are continued economic challenges facing our local community.”

He added: “As the Innovation and Enterprise Programme progresses further it will provide additional support opportunities for our SME’s in both Omagh and Leitrim with a particular focus on growing new and expanding high tech businesses in the ICBAN region.”

ICBAN Chairperson Cllr David Alcorn of Donegal County Council said: “This project is an important infrastructure investment for the cross-border region and will help develop key innovation businesses in the area, within both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. I would like to pay tribute to the staff of ICBAN and our partner organisations in working together towards today’s important milestone event.”

Professor Fabian Monds, CBE, Chairman of Omagh Enterprise Company said: “I am delighted to welcome the DETI Minister to mark the start of construction of the £2.3million Innovation Growth Centre which will help to create more new business and jobs in the Omagh area.”