Joining Forces to Shape New Strategy

Leading business bodies in Northern Ireland are helping shape a Regional Economic Strategy for the Mid South West (MSW) region.

Representatives from the Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Hospitality Ulster, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association met on Friday to hear about progress in the development of the strategy and to put forward ideas as to how business growth can be maximised across the region.

The Regional Econonic Strategy is the focus of a unique collaboration between the three councils which form the MSW region: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council.

Its aims are to improve productivity; create more and better jobs; address economic infrastructure; grow investment; support business innovation; grow tourism and improve skills across the region.

Oxford Economics and Morrow Gilchrist Associates will combine input from the session along with contributions made at a recent meeting of key businesses in the MSW region as well as engagement from stakeholder bodies and direction from the MSW Governance Steering Group made up of elected members.

Cllr. Siobhán Currie, Chair of Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, said: “The business organisations gathered around the table today represent a huge swathe of the companies operating the region. Their input will be invaluable in helping shape the Regional Economic Strategy which will set a path for the future growth of the region’s economy and the prosperity of everyone.”

Cllr. Martin Kearney, chair of Mid Ulster District Council, stated: “We want to make sure the Regional Economic Strategy for the Mid South West answers the very real and present needs of the business community. With the help of the business organisations who attended today’s meeting, we will develop that strategy around those needs to help businesses to grow and compete on a global stage now and in the future.”

Cllr. Mealla Campbell, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, continued: “The importance of the Mid South West region’s economy has been emphasised by the strong representation of Northern Ireland’s main business organisations today. We plan to put everything in place to help their members – based in the Mid South West region and throughout Northern Ireland – grow, thrive and create jobs in the coming years.”

Kirsty McManus, Institute of Directors national director in Northern Ireland, said:“We have a strong engineering and manufacturing sector in the Mid South West region and it is important we have that balanced growth across Northern Ireland. We’re delighted to work in partnership with the councils to really drive their ambition, creativity, innovation and productivity.”

Roger Pollen, Federation of Small Businesses added: “The Mid South West region has a huge complement of small businesses which are the bedrock of the local economy and FSB has a large number of members in the region who are a vital part of the wider fabric of the economy. Engaging in this way at this early stage is a really good move by the council leadership, as it means that businesses can set out what it is they need to grow and to help the whole region to prosper.”