Chamber News


Bell: Partnership key to continued economic growth in North West


9 September 2015 

Bell: Partnership key to continued economic growth in North West

Londonderry’s business community has a key role to play in driving regional economic growth, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell has said.

Addressing the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Lunch, the Minister said continued partnership would lay a strong foundation for future prosperity.
Jonathan Bell said: “The reform of local government will give councils a greater opportunity to shape how enterprise is supported in their local communities. They will be directly involved in encouraging business start-ups, establishing social enterprises and providing access to enterprise support for under-represented groups.

“Invest Northern Ireland, the Chamber and other local stakeholders have been working with the new council to develop its Integrated Economic Strategy, a strategy that has been co-funded by Invest NI. This is particularly important against the backdrop of a changing landscape for economic development, a challenging business environment and the new round of European funding.”

Praising the local business community for its entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking, the Minister said support was available to help viable ideas become a reality.

Jonathan Bell said: “Invest Northern Ireland has put in place a £170million Access to Finance Initiative to ensure that companies with high growth potential are not held back because they cannot access finance. 

“To date, over £3million has been loaned to 15 businesses in the Londonderry area through the Small Business Loan Fund and the Growth Loan Fund. The funds help forward thinking businesses to grow and I would encourage the business community to explore these options if they have a viable idea and a funding need that cannot be met from traditional sources.” 

Turning to tourism, Jonathan Bell said Tourism NI would continue to support and promote the region’s visitor experience. 

The Minister added: “Tourism Northern Ireland has provided almost £1.5million for events in Londonderry through the Tourism Event Funding Programme since 2013. This support covered a broad range of events for the arts, cultural and other community based programmes including those associated with the highly successful and iconic City of Culture.  

“In the current year,and one in which funding has been under severe pressure, Tourism NI has continued to ensure the continuing success of events such as the Jazz and Big Band Festival; The Maiden City Festival; Music City/Celtronic; The Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup; Carnival of Colours; and the colourful Bank of the Foyle Halloween Carnival.

“Londonderry is nowwidely recognised as one of Europe’s most significant and impressive walledcities. My Department through Tourism NI has certainly played its part inassisting the transformation in tourism that has taken place in the city. 

“As the experience in Londonderry and in other parts of Northern Ireland demonstrates clearly; events drive visitor numbers, generate increased revenue for the economy and provide employment opportunities.

“I will ensure we continue to do all we can to build on the momentum already in place and work towards increased economic growth for the North West region.”