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Officials work with Invest NI to play up borough’s prime investment potential

Craigavon Civic Centre

Officials from Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council are to work alongside Invest NI and planning department to highlight the borough’s value as an “an area prime for investment”.

It has been revealed that the council has 226 hectares of zoned ’employment land’, much of which is in the ownership of Invest NI and primed for development for Invest NI clients.

The council’s head of economic development, Nicola Wilson, has been briefing councillors on the current state of play.

In a report to go to the council’s economic development and regeneration committee, sitting in Craigavon on Tuesday, she states: “Officers will develop council’s international contacts and seek to extend our reach into international, global markets.

“Officers will actively seek Invest NI support for our SMEs on their exporting journey and to take part in Invest NI’s sectoral trade missions.”

The Regeneration and Development Strategy for the borough outlines council’s ambitions for the local economy.

It aims to be the foremost authority in respect to economic regeneration, business creation and development.

Ms Wilson reports: “Within the council’s corporate plan and the Regeneration and Development Strategy, the economic development department will provide dynamic support for a diverse, resilient economy which draws on its strengths to support entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.

“The council will support a region where business networks, strategic alliances and international connection pioneered by council are thriving, creative and attract investment, growth and employment opportunities for all, where future skills needs of industry are clearly defined and the skills of the residents match that need.”

Officers have already met with key stakeholders – including Invest NI – to begin discussions and define how best to work together to develop the economy, and to manage the transferring functions of the Regional Start Initiative, the Social Entrepreneurship Programme and Youth and Female Entrepreneurship, in a way which maximises opportunities and resources.

Officers will continue to meet and engage with Invest NI and its partners at a local and regional level to ensure that there is a model of business start-up support appropriate to the needs of the Council which includes differentiated support for those who experience particular challenges in business start-up and those with high growth potential.

Ms Wilson highlights: “Officers will explore ways that the support from council fits with specific specialisms within the region including life and health sciences, advanced engineering, rural diversification, agri-foods, creative industries and tourism and hospitality to ensure the advancement of key growth sectors.

“Officers are currently working up options on how best to maximise this resource to meet the needs of the local economy and to harness the potential of this area.”

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