Local businesses supported in challenging economic times

Invest Northern Ireland hosted an event in Newry recently to help local companies navigate through the current economic slowdown.

Specialist advisers provided practical advice for firms, highlighting ways to improve efficiencies in a range of areas such as internal operations, financial administration and supply chain management. One-to-one guidance was also given on how best to reduce or remove barriers to securing new sales in export markets.

Participants at the event had an opportunity to discuss their individual business needs in detail and identify key projects to improve performance. In many cases, this will result in the provision of up to five free days of further specialist consultancy support to consider development strategies and financial assistance to implement these initiatives, aiming to deliver significant benefits to help companies through the current downturn.

The financial assistance, provided from the recently announced £5 million Invest NI support fund, will include up to 50% of costs in areas such as staff training, salaries and expenses of new and existing employees, as well as consultancy costs, contributing to the implementation of identified capability improvement projects.

Mark Bleakney, Invest NI’s Southern Regional Office Manager, said: “Businesses can increase their competitiveness and profitability with Invest NI support, even in these difficult times, by focusing more on cost cutting, continuous improvement, introducing more effective processes and adding value to their products and services.

“Increasing export sales is more challenging during the downturn, but it is still vital and can be done by implementing innovative sales and marketing strategies.

Forty-six companies were represented at the seminar. The event followed recent events in Belfast, Cookstown, and Londonderry and built on a range of Invest NI initiatives such as Innovation Vouchers, Introduction to Exporting and the Growth Accelerator Programme, through which easy to access, flexible support is provided to support the growth of locally owned companies, particularly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).