Local business people Joe Quail and Michael Young co-owners of the Vault and Glenn Sands from ER Media were some of the guest speakers at a major economic conference addressing over 200 delegates in Craigavon Civic Centre.
The ‘Made in the Borough’ conference, sponsored by Invest NI and hosted by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council was also attended by three Ministers and MP David Simpson.
Delegates heard of how both businesses have developed and grown, challenges they have overcome and their plans for the future.
With the formal launch of the council’s new Regeneration and Development Strategy, which depicts how the council intends to become the most business orientated, the highest achieving area in terms of skills and qualifications and plans to increase tourism spend to equal the highest in NI.
People also heard how the new super council, the largest outside of Belfast, intends to ‘prosper the place’ and become the leading authority in NI on economic regeneration.
The strategy recognises that the strong foundations needed to achieve these high aspiring goals are already in place including the local economy’s considerable strengths in advanced manufacturing, agri-food production, life sciences sector, wholesale and retail.
The council area is projected to grow by 19,900 people from 2012-2022, the highest of all the new 11 local authorities accounting for 1/5th of the total growth across NI.
Speaking at Craigavon Civic Centre, Lord Mayor Darryn Causby said, “Our main priority as a council is to grow our local economy.
“The strategy sets out how we’re going to do that with the first step being this conference here today. Given our current strengths, our ‘can do’ attitude and the new powers of council, we are committed to making a real difference to the borough”.
The strategy includes detailed action plans under various themes including developing an international engagement strategy for the council and a diaspora network- something which the Executive is pushing under the name of Northern Irish Connections.
Other speakers at the conference reflected the international global companies founded in the area including Paul Trouton (IT Fuel), Doug Cookson (Almac), Jilly Dougan (Jilly’s Edible Gardens), John Woods (Linwoods) and Jonathan Rountree (Electronic Excellence Ltd).