This week the Chamber board had a very promising meeting with Economy Minister Diane Dodds and newly appointed Junior Minister Gary Middleton.
The Chamber was represented by our President Dawn McLaughlin, Vice-President Aidan O’Kane, CEO Paul Clancy, and board members including Gavin Killeen, Redmond McFadden, and Selina Horshi.
During the meeting, many pressing issues facing Chamber members were raised directly to the Minister, including the Covid-19 business support grants. Those present raised the need to include support for large hospitality businesses as well as those small micro-businesses that supply into the hospitality sector with specialist products.
The Minister also heard about the need for a renewed focus on building a skilled workforce in the North West. Minister Dodds was very positive in response and is committed to investing in new skills policies in the North West, including higher-level apprenticeships, and courses which match skills to market demands.
Overall, there was plenty of optimism in the meeting about the economic future of the North West. Despite the challenges faced by Covid-19 and Brexit, the Minister made it clear that the North West has a big role to play in re-building the Northern Ireland economy in the coming years.
Minister Dodds also hopes to visit the North West to meet with the Chamber once restrictions ease. The Chamber looks forward to working with her Department further to develop the North West’s capacity to attract investment, support business enterprise, and meet the skills demands of the future.
Next week, we will also meet with Finance Minister Conor Murphy and senior Department of Finance officials in two meetings to discuss funding priorities for our region and the upcoming 2021/22 NI Budget.