Enterprising Irvinestown

Invest Northern Ireland has announced the Irvinestown Trustee Enterprise Company Ltd (ITEC) as the winner of the NI heat of the Enterprising Britain 2007 competition, ahead of runners-up Mission Hall Quilts from Londonderry and the Signal Centre of Excellence in Bangor.

Enterprising Britain is a key part of the Government’s drive to increase rates of entrepreneurial activity in the UK. The competition runs nationally across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and operates in two stages: a regional nomination stage and a national competition between the regional finalists. Since February, Invest NI has been searching for the region’s most enterprising place, with the hope that the winner will be the successful candidate at the UK finals in the autumn.

Enterprising Britain 2007 is run by the Department of Trade and Industry in partnership with the Regional Development Agencies and devolved administrations, and aims to identify enterprise champions: places that have created jobs, brought communities together, and made a real difference to local businesses and local people.

Winners from each of the UK regions will go forward to the UK finals in September, before the overall winner progresses to the European Enterprise Awards later in the year.

ITEC aims to increase economic development and employment opportunities in the town of Irvinestown and surrounding areas, by active community participation in job creation and the promotion and creation of further job opportunities. It works in partnership with other agencies to address social needs and improve the conditions of community life. ITEC has a pool of voluntary expertise which is used to plan, implement and evaluate economic development locally and to assist the start-up of small businesses.

Graham Davis, Director of Regional Economic Development for Invest NI, congratulated ITEC, saying: “I am delighted to announce that ITEC Ltd is this year’s NI regional winner. It has demonstrated a high degree of creativity in its attempts to promote the spirit of enterprise within an area of social and economic need. I wish it the best of luck as it progresses to the next stage of the competition.”

Since its inception in 1992, ITEC has generated over 200 jobs across 25 businesses varying from manufacturing to retail and service. Among the businesses operating from ITEC are; a niche market textile business, a large furniture retailer, a rural transport project and a human milk bank.

Commenting on the success, ITEC Chairperson Pat Monaghan said: “The Trustees were founded by a group of pioneering individuals who believed that it was important to work collectively for the greater good of Irvinestown, and that it was not enough to simply look out for ‘number one’, or to consider only the needs of their families and singular denominational groups. They believed they had responsibilities to something greater than themselves and that they must engage with and earn the respect of their entire community. Today in Irvinestown we have a dynamic economic and social industry to be proud of.”

ITEC are representing Northern Ireland at the national stage of the Enterprising Britain 2007 competition, which began on 1st June. A panel of business experts including Celia Hodson, Head of Business Development at the Social Enterprise Coalition, are judging the 12 regional finalists and will announce the overall winner at the high-profile awards event in London in September.

Celia was part of a delegation which visited ITEC yesterday to assess it for the national stage of the competition. The judges were presented with an overview of the project, as well as visiting the businesses and local people who have benefited from the project.