Foster: Fermanagh perfect showcase for Northern Ireland

If David Cameron wanted to show world leaders what a fantastic place Northern Ireland is he could have chosen no better place than Fermanagh, Arlene Foster has said.

Officially opening the Pre-G8 conference at South West College today, the Enterprise Minister said the event offered the perfect opportunity to showcase the region's business and tourism offering.

Arlene Foster said: "This is a very timely and welcome initiative in that it is taking place on the cusp of Fermanagh hosting some of the world’s most powerful leaders at the forthcoming G8 Summit.

"When he announced that Fermanagh was to host the Summit, David Cameron said he wanted to show the world that Northern Ireland was 'a great place for business, a great place for investment, a place with an incredibly educated and trained workforce that was ready to work for international business'. Of course I couldn't agree more and it is a message I take with me when I lead Invest NI trade missions in key international markets, most recently to Brazil."

The Pre-G8 conference was organised by South West College in association with Omagh Enterprise Company Ltd, supported by Invest Northern Ireland and the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI).

Themes for discussion included innovation, entrepreneurship, skills development and internationalisation.

The Minister added: "When the world leaders come to Fermanagh in the next week or so, they will discuss major global issues such as trade, tax and transparency. This pre-G8 event presents the ideal opportunity to galvanise and promote positive regional thinking with a focus on international and economic development.

“By looking at how we can play to our existing strengths while at the same time encouraging increased entrepreneurship and export-focused growth, we can position Northern Ireland as an even more attractive business proposition for investors.”

Meanwhile, there was more good news for Fermanagh, when Arlene Foster announced a £718,000 funding package for Enniskillen town centre on behalf of the Department of Social Development (DSD). It brings the DSD total investment in the town to more than £1.2million in eight months.

The additional money will support the town centre when it plays host world leaders at the upcoming G8 summit, as well as offering longer term benefit to local people and tourists in the months and years following the summit meeting.

Arlene Foster said: “I welcome this additional funding from my Executive colleague Nelson McCausland. Money spent on revitalising our towns and cities ensures the sustainability of local communities across Northern Ireland and, for Fermanagh, this recent work will ensure Enniskillen looks its best for the G8 leaders.

“This level of investment will be enjoyed by local people long into the future, with the money funding work which strengthens the town’s commercial core as a shopper and visitor destination. This is a great boost for everyone who works in, shops and visits Enniskillen town centre and as a result, local businesses in the area can improve their capacity to trade and attract new customers, which will contribute to the long term viability and prosperity of the town centre.”