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Dodds encourages forward-planning for enterprise development

Monday, 31 March 2008

Economy Minister Nigel Dodds today encouraged businesses in north Belfast to build on their success and plan ahead for sustained economic growth.

The Minister addressed an audience at the North Belfast Exploring Enterprise Conference, which celebrated the achievements of the recent Exploring Enterprise Programme in the area. The programme was part of a wider initiative which aimed to raise awareness of enterprise in areas of socio-economic disadvantage in Greater Belfast.

The conference provided a platform for discussion on future economic development in North Belfast. Speaking at the event, Minister Dodds said: “Entrepreneurs make a significant contribution to the economic growth of communities, and it is vital that appropriate support structures are available to assist innovative projects and maximise commercial opportunities.

“The Exploring Enterprise Programme has offered many individuals and groups the opportunity to consider and explore their creative business ideas and has provided great support and encouragement. These efforts could lead to the creation of export-focused business ventures, which would make a positive contribution to economic growth in North Belfast.

“By developing a greater culture of enterprise, the entrepreneurial talent that exists here can be fully utilised and more new businesses established.”

The Exploring Enterprise initiative consisted of a series of workshops, seminars, mentoring and coaching exercises. It was developed in conjunction with key stakeholders with the activities tailored to the particular needs of the community.

Ms Alice Quinn, Chief Executive of the North City Business Centre, said: “In collaboration with the North Belfast Partnership, we have worked on this initiative to regenerate the economy locally by stimulating increased levels of enterprise awareness. There is clearly an interest in enterprise and self employment and we need to build on the success of the Exploring Enterprise Programme to develop north Belfast as a thriving economic hub.”

The project in north Belfast was offered £100,000 from the Renewing Communities fund via Invest Northern Ireland and was delivered by North City Business Centre and North Belfast Partnership. It was an integral part of the Renewing Communities Action Plan that was launched in 2006.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The cross-departmental £33million Renewing Communities Action Plan was launched by Minister David Hanson in April 2006 and identified more than 60 actions to address some of the particular challenges faced in disadvantaged communities within the five areas of North, South and East Belfast, Greater Shankill and Rathcoole.
  2. Through the Renewing Communities initiative, Government aims to focus on both physical improvements together with strengthening the capacity of groups and organisations working to tackle disadvantage.
  3. Invest NI has been allocated £1.69million through the Renewing Communities Action Plan to work on specific actions to develop entrepreneurship.
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