Newry, Mourne and Down District Council recently hosted a second Economic Forum in the Canal Court Hotel on Wednesday 8th November 2017, with a focus on strategic economic initiatives being driven by the Council to create opportunities for local people and local communities to thrive.

At the Forum, Chief Executive, Liam Hannaway, presented the potential advantages of a Belfast City Regional Deal for the Council District alongside KPMG, the advisory team on the City Deal, highlighting the potential benefits across investment, infrastructure and skills.

The Canal Court Hotel hosted the recent Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Economic Forum. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Canal Court Hotel hosted the recent Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Economic Forum. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Mr Hannaway said: “Newry Mourne and Down District Council is delighted to be part of this first City Deal in Northern Ireland due to the economic geography of the region. A Belfast Region City Deal can deliver additional and inclusive economic growth for our area including more investment in infrastructure, increased innovation and drive a highly skilled labour market all of which will be positive for the people living and working in this Council area.”

However, he also stressed that a City Deal was not the only vehicle to attract investment, stating: “We will continue as a Council to consider every opportunity to attract investment which can deliver strategic projects for example, a comprehensive roll out of broadband for rural areas. We will ensure that our focus on economic objectives and initiatives deliver positive outcomes for everyone.”

It is expected that the UK Government will make an announcement affirming their commitment to a City Deal for the Belfast Region in the Autumn Budget on 22nd November. Other city regions which have benefited from a City Deal include Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Swansea.

The Economic Forum which was attended by over thirty businesses and representatives from across the Council area, focused on other key initiatives the Council has also been working on, for example, a new paper on Brexit and the Border Corridor.

The paper which was led by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council was developed across eleven local authorities comprising the Ireland/Northern Ireland Border Corridor. It outlines the risks, opportunities and issues to be considered as a result of Brexit, to ensure the region can reach its true economic potential.

Mr Hannaway recently presented the paper to the Irish Ambassador, the Northern Ireland Executive Office and Nina Obermaier from the Michel Barnier taskforce team at a meeting in Brussels accompanied by Chief Executives from other border Councils.

Speaking at the Forum, Chair of Council Roisin Mulgrew said: “I am delighted to see so many businesses attend this Economic Forum. We must consider every opportunity to improve economic performance of this Council area, working collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders and partner organisations including our outstanding business community in Newry, Mourne and Down.”

She added: “This area is a world class location for business and we are committed to developing a vibrant, connected and dynamic region. We are in a unique geographical location which strengthens our opportunities for growth and investment. Our role as the Council is to empower potential by working collaboratively with all key partners. “

The next Economic Forum will take place in quarter one 2018.