The First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter D. Robinson, MLA has officially opened a 40,000 square feet extension to the Argyle Business Centre in the Shankill area of Belfast today.
The Centre, which is celebrating its 20th birthday, is a 'not for profit' limited company which was formed to assist in the economic regeneration of the Greater Shankill area, through the provision of workspace, training and support services.
Mr Robinson said: "Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of any economy. During what remains a challenging time for all businesses, it is vital that we support and encourage the creation of new businesses and support the growth of existing companies.
"Argyle Business Centre is well placed to provide the help and support needed to make this happen in an area where historically there have been low levels of start-up activity."
Invest Northern Ireland provided over £900,000 of support to the development of the second phase of this building centre and there are now some 50 small and medium enterprises operating from it. They are also in negotiations with a number of businesses regarding new investment projects in the area.
In thanking Invest NI for their efforts, Mr Robinson said: "Invest NI’s support has been a vital component in stimulating the economic regeneration of the Shankill area and their efforts are greatly appreciated. It is even more heartening however to see a local community taking their future into their own hands. This Centre is both a testament to the past and hope for the future."
The International Fund for Ireland contributed £500,000 through its Disadvantaged Areas Initiative towards Phase 2 of the Argyle Business Centre. Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: "This is an impressive development and wonderful example of people coming together to create a better future for their community. Argyle Business Centre has already proven to be a key driver of local business and enterprise and I have no doubt that it will continue to play an important role in enhancing the prosperity of the local community for many years to come."