The importance of the Belfast Region City Deal is to be highlighted today with the visit of key partners behind the scheme to Westminster in the final days before the 2018 Budget on Monday.
Proposals for the ambitious £1 billion programme designed to boost economic growth across the province and create 20,000 jobs over the next decade, was launched at the end of September when the city’s bid was sent to the Treasury for approval.
Today, a delegation of partners from the six collaborating councils along with representatives from the universities and further eduction colleges will press their case with politicians, business people, and education representatives at a Westminster reception.
“What we want now is to secure an announcement in the Autumn Budget which will tell us that the Treasury is making a significant, long term commitment to boosting our economy,” said Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey.
“We’ve developed a genuine partnership and collaboration through this process and together we’re creating real momentum to deliver a decade of significant investment to boost inclusive economic growth, create up to 20,000 new and better jobs and £470m Gross Value Added (GVA).
“We’re absolutely focused on accelerating growth - helping our local businesses become more competitive, making the region a global investment destination and ensuring that we make a positive difference to those living in our most deprived communities.”
The Deal focuses on accelerating inclusive economic growth in the industry areas where the province is experiencing most rapid growth and have the potential to become world leaders.
The four key investment arras are digital and innovation, infrastructure, tourism led regeneration and employability and skills.
“We’ve already proven that we can lead the way in innovation, digital development and tourism led regeneration, so we want to secure the investment we need to take us to the next level and firmly establish us on the global stage in areas like Life and Health Sciences, Creative Industries and Advanced Manufacturing,” said Ms Hargey.
The lynchpin of the deal is the gaining of approval for £450 million funding from the Treasury to be matched by the same amount from the Assembly through the Northern Ireland block grant, with the remainder coming from partner councils and the private sector.
“This is an exciting, once in a generation opportunity to deliver a real boost for the Belfast Region and the wider Northern Ireland economy,” said North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds.
“The Belfast Region has seen significant progress in recent years with record levels of foreign direct investment and thousands of new jobs created, but there remain a number of barriers to growth in Belfast and the surrounding area; namely low productivity, economic inactivity, skills gaps and a need to invest in an ageing infrastructure.”