Businesses urged to dive into new development initiative

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton with Chamber president Nick Coburn, left, and Alan Egner of Power NI
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton with Chamber president Nick Coburn, left, and Alan Egner of Power NI

Companies across Northern Ireland have been urged to get behind a new series of support intitiatives designed and run by business group the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber).

More than 150 members of the business community attended the event at the Kingspan stadium for the launch of ‘Learn Grow Excel’ - described as a “dynamic and powerful” new suite of business support initiatives led and resourced from within the private sector.

Working with Power NI, the new range of services recognises the commitment from the private sector to assist local companies to scale-up and maximise business growth and export opportunities.

‘Learn Grow Excel’, was formed in response to the Department for the Economy’s ‘Export Matters’ strategy which sets out ambitious targets for growth in international markets, and has been designed to support growing companies at every stage of development and encourage more export activity in Northern Ireland.

“The Department for the Economy’s Export Matters Action Plan sets the very challenging target of increasing the value of sales outside Northern Ireland by 33% by 2020 and 80% by 2025,” said Chamber president Nick Coburn.

“Through our current pioneering programmes such as Danske Bank Export First and Connecting for Growth in partnership with Bank of Ireland UK, NI Chamber has demonstrated that experienced exporters from the private sector can contribute to achieving these targets by sharing their experience, their expertise and their networks.”

The initiative, he said, had been designed to support growing companies at every stage of development and encourage export activity in Northern Ireland and demonstrated that the private sector has a key role to play in the creation of a strong, competitive, regionally balanced economy.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA said: “Growing Northern Ireland’s exports is a critical element in creating an increasingly outward looking, globally competitive economy.

“It is encouraging to learn that we were the only part of the United Kingdom to record an increase in exports in the last quarter.”

As such he said he recognised that growing external sales and exports required a combined effort led by companies supported by Invest NI and the NI Chamber of Commerce.

“As well as Export Matters I am developing an International Trade Plan which will include a Trade Advisory Board and Trade Ambassadors to assist us in our efforts to open up new markets. There are many new opportunities globally and we need ambition, confidence and self-belief to grasp these.”

Alan Egner of Power NI, said: “We are committed to helping the local SME sector prosper and are delighted to support the Learn Grow Excel initiative.”