Omagh jobs boost is in the pipeline

OMAGH Enterprise Centre’s chief executive, Nicholas O’Shiel, revealed this week that 125 jobs are expected to be created as a result of the new Innovation Growth Centre at the Gortrush site.

The £2 million development, which is set to be completed in May 2013, will see 25 businesses join the 50 currently on site – and bring the total number of employed to approximately 375.

The state-of-the-art two storey building, measuring 14,000 square feet, will offer prospective SME’s (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) super-fast broadband, with unrivalled speeds of 10Mbps to 10Gbps.

Mr O’Shiel believes that the centre will prove attractive to companies reliant on an optimum broadband connection and allow Omagh to ‘rival major cities’.

“The attraction will be a modern building with the practical element of having broadband speeds that you could only find in major cities. Our appeal has now widened as a result, and we expect to get a new type of company – media companies, software developers and gaming developers for example. Companies that we have not necessarily attracted in the past.

“There is also the possibility for companies in places such as Belfast or Dublin to use a unit as a satellite facility. Should they have employees from wider Tyrone, or the local area, they could work from the centre a couple of days a week. That is something we are currently looking at,” said Mr O’Shiel.

Omagh Enterprise Centre has grown, and adapted, considerably in its 25 years and Mr O’Shiel feels that the new development could potentially spur further growth.

“Ultimately that is the plan. When the new development is complete and up and running for a couple of years, we might ask why can’t we do it somewhere else?

“We will have around 70 companies and up to 400 people coming and going everyday, and the spin-off from that will be huge. When there are that many people about, and that much activity, things happen. It really is exciting.

“It’s all happening at a time when public sector jobs are tight and inward investment coming to Northern Ireland won’t necessarily go outside of Belfast.

“Jobs will be created in small start-ups, especially those in the growth sectors of digital technology and media. These sectors will grow and it’s a matter of people getting the skills required. That’s the paradoxical thing, there are jobs available, but people don’t have the skills to acquire them and that is something that needs to be addressed educationally,” he added.

West Tyrone MLA, Tom Buchanan, who sits on the Omagh Enterprise Company board, has described the centre as something ‘Omagh should be proud of’.

“This is positive news for Omagh and I am delighted to see the expansion of the centre and indeed it can offer something that very few can. It offers broadband speeds that are not matched outside of Belfast and we must really sell this for Omagh. We must be attracting companies and telling them of the high-quality facilities on offer in the area.

“It is something we must do when the world’s leaders come to Fermanagh for the G8 Summit. That is an opportunity for us to show the world that we have facilities to rival cities and that Omagh is a good place to do business. This will lead to the creation of jobs and hopefully the word will spread to other companies and individuals starting up businesses,” said Mr Buchanan.