A dedicated new website to help boost investment in Mid and East Antrim has been launched, aimed at maximising opportunities to push the fast-forward button on economic prosperity in the borough.
The website – www.investmideastantrim.com– sets out to investors the Borough’s compelling proposition as a destination in which to live, work, learn, visit and invest in. It includes information on major investment sites and opportunities, as well as details of wider economic initiatives, such as BuySupplyNI, a purpose-built Northern Ireland portal which is helping to strengthen the local supply chain, identifying locally based innovative suppliers that can respond to the needs of buyers across the province.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “As an ambitious, forward-thinking and well-connected region we are primed for economic growth and international investment.
“Mid and East Antrim is a key partner in the transformational £1bn Belfast Region City Deal, and we are determined to make sure our economy has everything it needs in place to grow. With some of the most enviable assets in terms of companies, people and physical resources; we are committed to growing our economy and ensuring a better future for all.
“Following the economic devastation caused around the world by Covid-19, innovative initiatives and thinking are more important than ever for our future economic success and growth.”
The focus on investment in Mid and East Antrim has been further enhanced with Graham Whitehurst’s reappointment for a second term as chair of the Council’s Manufacturing Task Force – an industry-led initiative which has been mitigating the impact of the closures of local employers in the manufacturing sector and providing a robust platform for inward investment, increased employment opportunities, skills development and economic growth.
Mr Whitehurst, previously plant manager for Michelin and operations director for Wrightbus in Ballymena, echoed the Mayor’s comments:
“Mid and East Antrim is already home to several of Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing firms and to numerous successful global companies and local businesses which are thriving and growing. This presents a compelling investment proposition to investors.
“Coupling that with our long-term vision to establish a hydrogen hub in the Borough as part of the government’s wider green energy revolution, we already have a strong track record of attracting international companies, which continue to expand their footprint in the area, reflecting our globally competitive, talent-driven value proposition.”
In 2019, total export sales from the Borough were £588 million. Just under half 46% of that figure was destined for the European Union, 38% went to the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific region, whilst 16% went to the Americas.
With an average turnaround for planning applications of only seven weeks and unique funding opportunities such as the Michelin Development Fund – which offers financial support through loans, as well as business expertise and advice to SMEs and grant support to foreign direct investors -the Mid and East Antrim area offers an attractive pro-business environment where businesses are supported and encouraged to grow.
It is not just worldwide businesses like Wrightbus, Ryobi or Caterpillar that have seen success in the Borough, according to Cllr Timothy Gaston, Chair of Borough Growth.
He said: “There is a real culture of entrepreneurship here where local companies flourish in a business-friendly and fully supported way. Plotbox, McCue, Moore Concrete, Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort and IPC Mouldings are just a few indigenous firms that are continuing to invest in the local economy, developing products, services and solutions that are used and known on a national and international scale.”
Additionally, the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) will see funding realised for three key projects in the Borough: the development of the i4C Innovation Centre at St. Patrick’s Barracks; the expansion of The Gobbins coastal tourism attraction; and the regeneration of Carrickfergus.
Cllr Gaston added: “Our highly innovative state of the art i4C Innovation centre will offer a combination of premium office space, incubation space and a new high technology iLAB with access to leading edge manufacturing and Cleantech innovation tools.”
BRCD also creates a new opportunity to reshape and repurpose our cities and town centres and build on our tourism achievements.
Recent investments into the Borough include Efectis, a global player in fire science and solutions and Alexander Dennis Limited, the UK’s largest bus and coach manufacturer whilst Wrightbus have also recently announced plans for major expansion due to the success of their hydrogen buses.
To learn more about the investment opportunities across Mid and East Antrim, visit: investmideastantrim.com.