First Minister, the Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have addressed leading members of the business community at an event hosted by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber).
Addressing senior figures from 25 companies, representing a range of sectors across Northern Ireland, the First Minister, Arlene Foster said: “The crucial role played by Northern Ireland’s business leaders in the drive towards improving job opportunities, creating more investment, more exports, more research and development, and more innovation, can never be under-estimated. As business leaders you are the innovators, the problem solvers and the forward thinkers.
"Over the last five years the Executive, through Invest Northern Ireland, has delivered the promotion of 42,488 new jobs, £3billion of employment related investment, £589million of business investment in Research & Development £38million of loans made through the Growth Loan Fund and a 9.1% growth in manufacturing exports in 2015-16 from 2014-15. These achievements have benefited the whole of Northern Ireland.
“As a new Executive we are committed, just as you are, to delivering. By working together we can, and we will, take Northern Ireland’s economy to the next level.”
The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: “The Chamber of Commerce plays a vital role in supporting and growing the economy. This Chamber of Commerce event offers us the opportunity to listen to the views of members and also to reinforce the drive and determination of the Executive.
“We are committed to creating and attracting new and better jobs, improving our public services, investing in our schools, our hospitals, our roads and supporting the most vulnerable across society. We are determined to deliver and to move forward with people and businesses who want to make a positive contribution to create a better future for all.
“Last week I attended the ‘Amazing the Space’ event at the Eikon centre, attended by over 3,000 young people. At 18 years of age many of these young people are the children of the Good Friday Agreement. They are your future employees, our future business leaders. It is our collective responsibility to create the best possible conditions for them and you.
“We are fully committed and ready to work together and meet these challenges head on.”
Following the event, Nick Coburn, President of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “NI Chamber guests were delighted to have the opportunity to interact directly with the First Minister and deputy First Minister. They both clearly recognise the role of business as wealth creators and the role that government plays in creating the conditions for business growth. NI Chamber believes that the Draft Programme for Government represents a step change in the NI Executive’s approach to economic and social development and we look forward to the publishing of the Action Plan along with an Economic Strategy over the coming weeks.
“NI Chamber stands by to assist in any way it can to support a Programme for Government that helps grow the business sector. We aspire to an economy that puts jobs, pride and dignity into our communities; that provides diversity of opportunities for a highly educated and skilled workforce; that delivers timely world class infrastructure and better, more efficient, public services.”
The wide ranging discussion also covered other issues impacting the Northern Ireland economy including the Programme for Government, attracting Foreign Direct Investment, Infrastructure Investment and an update on Corporation Tax.
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