By Des Gartland, Invest Northern Ireland’s North West Regional Manager
As a region, the North West has many strengths and businesses in the region have always played a significant role in the development of our economy.
Invest NI is one of a number of partners committed to supporting economic and business growth in the North West. Our support is open to any business with an ambition to sell its products or services outside Northern Ireland – in the last five years, over 620 business in the North West have sought our help.
We have helped these businesses set-up, create new jobs, develop new products, tap into new export markets and invest in their staff. This in turn will help generate nearly £380m of investment in the area and create over 3,330 jobs.
There is an abundance of potential in the area and we are working hard to increase the demand for our support. It is a misperception that there is a specific allocation of support to any area, there isn’t. It doesn’t matter where your business is located, if we can help support you, we will.
We have a long-standing relationship with Derry City & Strabane District Council, working together to grow the economy in the area. Our support to companies to create new jobs directly contributes to the targets the Council has set as part of its Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan for the region. This plan is very much the road map for economic, social and environmental delivery for the region for the next 10-15 years. It is really pleasing to see that all of the key performance targets are for the most part on target or ahead of plan. This includes investment of circa £3.4billion and the creation of over 15,000 jobs by 2032.
Much of our advisory support is readily available to any business in NI, including those in the North West on the nibusinessinfo.co.uk or investni.com websites which collectively had c6.5m visits last year. Delivering much of our support digitally, we have significantly increased our reach, with c9,500 attendees on a range of webinars, tutorials and online events.
Looking to the future: the Derry & Strabane City Deal is the largest ever single investment package by government into the Council area. In all, the capital investment package will total around £250m, one of the most generous city deals across the UK. It will help deliver higher paid jobs and contribute to creating a more regionally-balanced economy over the coming years. Invest NI is already working with the Council to support it to fully realise the potential this offers.
We also partner with the Council on many initiatives: like ‘Growth North West – the Export Journey’, a series of workshops designed to encourage more North West businesses to export for the first time. We have also provided £1.7m of Local Economic Development funding to the Council to run programmes to support local businesses in the area and we are working together on a pilot programme to stimulate more entrepreneurs to set up businesses in the region.
We are also working with other local stakeholders, such as the Londonderry Chamber, to build on the strong business base in the region. Just last week we partnered with the Chamber and the Council on the Succeed North West event, showcasing why businesses should consider the North West as a location to invest. Over 100 businesses and partners attended.
These are just a small sample of some of the many ways we have and continue to work in partnership to stimulate investment and grow the economy in the North West.
As I said at the start, there is an abundance of potential in the North West. Let’s work together to realise it.
If you would like to speak to Invest NI about support for your business contact our Business Support team on 0800 181 4422.