Enterprise Minister, Maria Eagle has launched a £375,000 initiative to encourage and support business growth in the West Belfast and Greater Shankill areas.
The Enterprise Council, funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the Integrated Development Fund, will act as a forum to highlight the main issues facing existing businesses in the area, and to identify solutions. It will do this through development of a small business network in West Belfast and Greater Shankill.
Over the next three years, the Enterprise Council will focus on ways in which the number of business start ups can be increased, identifying barriers to company growth and how more inward investment can be attracted to the area. It will make recommendations about infrastructure improvements for the benefit of all businesses.
Launching the initiative, Minister Eagle said: “Small businesses are a vital part of a growing and sustainable economy, so we must provide them with an infrastructure that supports their endeavours and encourages further investment.
“The Enterprise Council will play a major part in delivering these economic objectives in the West Belfast and Greater Shankill areas.”
Wishing the Council every success as it works to promote business growth and encourage new investment to regenerate and strengthen the local economy, the Minister continued: “The Enterprise Council’s action plan has set a number of challenging targets but I am confident that by working in partnership with Invest NI, local stakeholders and the Integrated Development Fund, the Council can and will create a positive entrepreneurial culture in this area of high social and economic need.”
Finance Minister, the Rt Hon David Hanson MP, said: “The Integrated Development Fund was established by Government to promote an integrated approach to local development. The Enterprise Council was one of 18 projects identified by the West Belfast and Greater Shankill communities for assistance under the Fund and is another commendable example of progress in this regard.”
The Integrated Development Fund has provided £200,000 and Invest NI has offered £110,000 of support towards the total project costs of £375,000.
Padraic White, Chairman of the Enterprise Council added: “The Enterprise Council represents local entrepreneurs and is committed to the economic regeneration of the West Belfast and Greater Shankill areas. It will address key areas of business development such as supporting start ups, impediments to expansion of existing firms, accelerating new investment and upgrading the physical infrastructure of the combined area. The new Enterprise Council marks the realisation of another of the recommendations of the original Task Forces and will work in partnership with other organisations in the interest of both communities”.