Fingers are being crossed throughout Northern Ireland today, as representatives of Ballykeel Business Development Ltd head to London for the national finals of the Enterprising Britain Awards 2006.
Chosen as the most enterprising place in Northern Ireland the Ballykeel Business Development Ltd project is already the regional winner of the DTI’s ‘Enterprising Britain 2006’ competition. An annual event, co-ordinated within Northern Ireland by Invest Northern Ireland, the contest has been designed to reward towns, places, cities or areas of any size across the country that are best improving economic prospects and encouraging enterprise in their regions.
The final stage of the competition will now see the project pitted against 11 other entries from across the UK for the prestigious title of Enterprising Britain Winner 2006, and the chance to represent Britain at the European Enterprise Awards in November. The results of the competition will be announced on 18 September.
Key to the success of Ballykeel Business Development Ltd’s strategy was the creation of a 10,000 sq ft development on former waste ground to accommodate workspace units, training facilities and administrative support, in one of the most socially disadvantaged wards within the local council area.
Opened in 2002, the initial targets of the development were to generate occupancy levels of 75% by 2005, with 70% of all business tenants drawn from the local community, to create 30 new jobs, to attract funding of £600,000 and to be self-sustainable in five years.
However the centre has far exceeded these targets and is now 100% occupied with 90% of the tenants coming from Ballykeel and 38 new jobs created. On the strength of this success, more waste ground has been secured, as well as an additional £750,000 investment for the development of 16 business units to meet local demand.
The project has been supported through funding from the Department for Social Development's Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy and complements Government's Renewing Communities initiative, which has been designed to tackle disadvantage in some of Northern Ireland’s most deprived areas.
Graham Davis Director of Entrepreneurship at Invest Northern Ireland, said,
“The project is a worthy winner of the Northern Ireland round of the Enterprising Britain Award, and we think Ballykeel has got what it takes to succeed at national and even European level. We will be wishing them all the best on the night, and will hope for the right result in London.”
Enterprising Britain 2006, which is run by the Department for Trade and Industry’s Small Business Service in partnership with the Regional Development Agencies and Devolved Administrations, aims to identify enterprise champions: places that have created jobs, brought communities together, and made a real difference to local businesses and local people.
For more information about Enterprising Britain 2006 please visit www.sbs.gov.uk/enterprisingbritain