Sir Reg Empey, MLA, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment visited Carrickfergus and Larne today as part of his continued interest in supporting economic development in the East Antrim Area.

Sir Reg said: “Economic development in the East Antrim area, in particular in Larne and Carrickfergus, has experienced many disappointments this year including job losses in the electronics sector caused by the global downturn in this market.

“However, I am very encouraged by the entrepreneurial spirit which is evident in this area and by the work of the Invest NI backed local enterprise agencies in supporting job creation.

“In addition, the University of Ulster and the East Antrim Institute are both keen to work closely with local business bodies in developing the economy through technology transfer and skills training. Invest NI are committed to strengthening on-the-ground relationships between local enterprises and the universities, particularly in nurturing university spin-out companies,” he added.

The Minister visited both Carrickfergus Enterprise Agency (CEAL) and Larne Enterprise Development Company (LEDCOM) and was briefed about the future plans of both agencies. The Minister also visited several local companies including Old Mill Whips and Sug@rcube, in Carrickfergus and Safety Service Agency in Larne.

Said Sir Reg: “These companies are good role models of entrepreneurship in very different but growing sectors of ICT, fire safety services and leisure products.

“Small business activity plays a vital role in Larne and Carrickfergus and accounts for around 60% of employment in the area.

“East Antrim has what it takes in terms of an effective business support infrastructure, a core of ambitious companies and a strong base of skilled and motivated people to bounce back from recent setbacks.”