Northern Ireland economy can keep growing despite challenges

Pictured at the CBI annual dinner are,from left, Barry Smyth, MCS Group, Angela McGowan, CBI NI director, Adrian Doran, Barclays Northern Ireland and David Gavaghan, CBI NI chairman
Pictured at the CBI annual dinner are,from left, Barry Smyth, MCS Group, Angela McGowan, CBI NI director, Adrian Doran, Barclays Northern Ireland and David Gavaghan, CBI NI chairman

A successful Northern Ireland will find its place in the global market through determination and talent, despite the challenges of governmen t and Brexit the head of business group the CBI has claimed.

Addressing its annual dinner in Belfast, NI chairman David Gavaghan said that was exemplified by growing number of businesses “demonstrating global ambition as we create a globally competitive economy that works for everyone”.

Speaking ahead of June’s General Election and with the polictical process in the province on hold, he said: “There is no denying that the business community faces huge challenges ahead.

However, citing existing examples of success in new and unfamiliar sectors, he said future growth was dependent on how successful the province could be at supporting the creation of businesses that are at the cutting edge of the global economy.

“Both government and business can take lessons from two local people who confronted their fears and inhibitions to become global leaders in their respective fields,” he said.

“Colin Williams from Sixteen South is at the forefront of children’s film animation.

“Professor Sir John McCanny is a world leader in cyber security and led the initiative that created the Centre for Secure Information Technology here in Belfast.”

CSIT, he added, was now seen as the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Cybersecurity, helping create more than 1,000 new jobs in the local knowledge economy.

“What they, and others like them, have achieved demonstrates that Northern Ireland has an abundance of talent. Government and business must work together to harness that talent and infuse it with the necessary ambition to facilitate the emergence of a new generation of Northern Irish global leaders.”

Explaining how local SMEs are being supported, Adrian Doran, head of Corporate Banking, Barclays Bank - main sponsor of the event - said: “SMEs are the backbone of our local economy and we really do have some world class small businesses – in the current climate it’s especially vital that these businesses get continued support to thrive and grow. At this event last year, we announced our £100m SME loan fund and we are delighted with how this has been taken up. Barclays UK has also recognised the sheer quality and quantity of high growth businesses in Northern Ireland, as Belfast has just been selected as a location for one of its Barclays Eagle Lab business incubators, its tenth in the UK.