Picture by Harrison Photography
Pictured (L – R) are Sharon O’Connor, Derry City Council, and Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI.
Invest Northern Ireland Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton has announced support for Derry City Council to help smaller businesses grasp opportunities from the UK City of Culture programme.
Mr Hamilton said Invest NI has offered over £700,000 of support towards a £1 million programme for smaller businesses planned by Derry City Council. The project is part funded by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.
Speaking during a visit to companies in Londonderry, Mr Hamilton said: “The aim of the council’s City of Culture and Clipper Business Opportunities is to deliver practical support which will help to equip participating companies with the skills and confidence not only to maximise the business opportunities by City of Culture status but also to increase their sustainability and growth in both the short and long terms.
“The City of Culture status has immense potential for companies across the broadest range of sectors especially tourism, creative industries, music, crafts and food and drink. Our support shows our determination to help companies to respond quickly, effectively and profitably to the exciting business opportunities that will develop from this tremendously important programme of activities.
“We have been working closely with Derry City Council to shape a programme of practical support that will enable smaller companies in particular to engage in this forthcoming event and to position themselves for similar activities throughout 2013.
“We expect the programme to help create around 100 new jobs in existing and new businesses including around 11 start-up enterprises. Overall, the programme is projected to generate additional turnover of almost £5 million during its duration,” he added.
Sharon O’Connor, Town Clerk and Chief Executive with Derry City Council, welcomed Invest NI’s support emphasising the importance of the business community reaping the benefits of the City of Culture year.
She said: “A key part of our ambition is to prepare businesses in the region to be adequately prepared for the huge opportunities that the UK City of Culture title will bring to the city and wider region during 2013.
“It’s a once in a lifetime chance for the business sector to improve their skills and maximise their business growth opportunities so that their business will have a lasting legacy and sustainability for future generations.”
Around 500 businesses are expected to receive indirect support and 200 direct support through mentoring or training. The programme will provide:
A One Stop Shop for information and opportunities associated with the City of Culture;
A comprehensive list of all the target businesses in the City with relevant contact details. It will be used for direct marketing and will also record support received by individual companies;
Get Started for 2013 – Encouraging business start-ups and entrepreneurship;
A City of Culture Business Club to promote the engagement of smaller businesses in the event by means of master classes, training seminars, awareness sessions and networking opportunities;
A Mentor Bank of experienced business people to help companies;
Clipper Trade Programme to develop an export training and related trade mission programme for businesses to ensure that the SME sector maximise the opportunities that the Clipper Round the World roadshow presents.