Omagh: A Call For Action

Omagh is the county town of Tyrone and the second largest District Council area in Northern Ireland. The town of Omagh is centrally located within the South West and with a population of over 20,000 is by far the largest town in the region.

Looking back, the ‘Omagh: Towards a City Vision for 2025’ document, published in January 2009, highlighted the need for Omagh to be a centre of influence and identified the importance of decisive leadership.

Looking ahead, the Review of Public Administration, which coupled Omagh with Fermanagh to form a new Council area, will give rise to significant opportunity and challenge.

From an economic perspective, the main challenges include the need to retain and attract public sector jobs; grow the private sector and support start-up businesses; and invest in and support the community and social economy sectors.

Omagh has traditionally been dependent on a large number of public sector jobs and the continuation of such jobs will play a key role in the local economy. However, political influence by all parties and politicians is needed to convince central government to retain existing and attract additional public sector jobs.

The attraction of inward investors to Omagh has been and will continue to be a major challenge, as evidenced by the track record of the last 20 years. As a result, there is a need to focus support on local small and medium sized businesses; particularly in relation to start-up, technology and export.

The level of planned government spending cuts will directly and adversely affect the community and social economy sectors. Therefore, support is needed to ensure their sustainability as they are often described as the glue that holds people together during difficult times.

From a strategic perspective, the main challenges include the need to position Omagh as a centre of influence, not least in the context of the proposed new Council area of Omagh and Fermanagh.

The recent announcement of the hosting of the G8 Summit in Fermanagh demonstrates how a region can influence for the benefit of its community and businesses. To this end, Omagh needs to take significant action to manage future change and realise any potential opportunities that may arise.

SO, as we enter a time of considerable change there is an urgent need to take action to ensure Omagh and its people benefit from such change in the years ahead.

What do you think? What next for Omagh? Get in touch, we would love to hear your views contact Nick on 028 8224 9494 or via Twitter @nick_oec.