Dodds opens 'Small Business is Big Business' conference

The small business sector has a significant role to play in the development of Northern Ireland’s economic future.

That was the message from the Economy Minister, Nigel Dodds to delegates at the ‘Small Business is Big Business,’ conference in Belfast today.

The conference brought together a number of key stakeholders and representatives from the small business sector to gain insight into a range of issues relating to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Speaking at the conference Minister Dodds said: “Northern Ireland’s small business sector is hugely important to the local economy. It is vital that we explore new ways to develop smaller enterprises as they are fundamental to Northern Ireland’s growth.

“The economic landscape is changing, so today’s event provides an important opportunity to discuss how government can work in partnership to support this sector, in the face of increasing global challenges.”

The Minister continued: “The Executive identified the economy as a top priority in the draft Programme for Government. One of our targets is to grow local businesses, through Invest NI support, by helping 600 existing local companies to become exporters for the first time by 2011.

“Local Enterprise Agencies have an important role to play in this, not least in promoting the export agenda and identifying potential in our small business sector.”

The conference was organised by Enterprise NI Forum and discussed the current climate for small businesses in Northern Ireland, models of international best practice in developing SMEs, and research findings about small businesses locally.

Anne McGregor, Chief Executive of Enterprise NI, added: “This seminar gives delegates an opportunity to learn about government policy and strategy in relation to small businesses, as well as providing a networking platform for those interested in promoting the SME sector in Northern Ireland.”