Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the combination of entrepreneurial spirit and a good support network is proving to be a recipe for success in Mid Ulster.
Addressing the Magherafelt Chamber of Commerce at their Business Breakfast, Arlene Foster outlined the measures being taken to help boost business in the area.
The Minister said: “Building a strong business base in Mid Ulster takes not just ambitious and talented entrepreneurs - it also requires a strong support network. That is why Invest Northern Ireland, and other economic development organisations, offer a range of support to help businesses with product and processes development, with exporting activity and with achieving operational excellence.
“Invest NI’s North West Regional Office is working in close partnership with Magherafelt District Council under the Local Economic Development measure of the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme. The main emphasis of the measure is to support activities that will address locally identified needs with a view to improving the local economy.
“Funding has been awarded for the Enterprising Magherafelt programme which aims to identify and support local businesses with the potential to innovate, increase competitiveness and ultimately create employment, wealth and expenditure in the local economy.
“Further funding has also recently been awarded to the Food Business Development Programme, which aims to improve the capability of at least 30 businesses in the Food and Hospitality sector.”
Businesses in the Mid Ulster area have also benefited from Invest Northern Ireland’s Boosting Business initiative, which was launched in direct response to the renewed economic downturn.
The Minister said: “Invest NI now has a dedicated full time Business Support Team in place to deal with enquiries from businesses across Northern Ireland and from 14 November 2011 – 29 October 2012 there were a total of 254 calls, texts and emails logged for Mid Ulster.”
The Jobs Fund was launched in April 2011 to support business owners across Northern Ireland to create new, sustainable jobs that will help to tackle unemployment.
Arlene Foster said: “In Mid Ulster there are currently 33 Jobs Fund business investment projects at various stages of development which should lead to the creation of 552 new jobs, 120 of which have already been created. The Jobs Fund has also provided support to seven young people (aged 16-24) not in education, employment or training (NEET) to set up their own business through the NEET Business Start grant, and to five individuals resident in Neighbourhood Renewal Areas (NRA) to set up their own business through the NRA Business Start Grant."
Urging those present at the event to support the Chamber of Commerce, Arlene Foster said it was important for local business to have a strong collective voice.
The Minister added: “I will continue to take every step necessary to boost local business during this economic downturn and ensure that local firms are able to seize the opportunities which emerge when the upturn arrives.”