Business bodies help shape plan to grow Mid South West region economy

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Pictured are representatives from the main business groups in Northern Ireland who met last week to help develop a Regional Economic Strategy for the Mid South West region which spans Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Fermanagh & Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council. Pictured at the event are, from left: Ann McGregor, NI Chamber of Commerce; Roger Pollen, Federation of Small Businesses; Aodhán Connolly, NI Retail Consortium; Kirsty McManus, Institute of Directors; Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland; Michael Bell, NI Food and Drink Association; Colin Neill, Hospitality Ulster.

The main 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 Economic 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 MSW region.

Developing the strategy, 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.

Councillor Mealla Campbell, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, said:  “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.”

Councillor 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 across 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.”

Councillor Martin Kearney, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, said: “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.”