The hard work, dedication and willingness to adapt of firms will help drive the recovery of the Mid and East Antrim economy in the coming months and years.
That was the message coming from a recent webinar for Mid and East Antrim businesses, hosted by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in partnership with its Manufacturing Task Force.
Dozens of companies from Mid and East Antrim representing the manufacturing and construction, freight and haulage industries across the borough tuned in to hear from a panel of speakers, including Diane Dodds MLA, Minister for the Economy; North Antrim MP Ian Paisley; Sammy Wilson, MP for East Antrim; and MEABC Chief Executive Anne Donaghy.
The webinar also featured first-hand insights from two Mid and East Antrim employers – Larne-based Caterpillar and IPC Mouldings from Carrickfergus – who highlighted the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures they are putting in place to drive the recovery and long-term sustainability of their businesses.
Addressing local companies in attendance by video link, the Minister for the Economy said: “I understand the importance of the freight and haulage industry within this area, and the large role manufacturing and construction plays within Mid and East Antrim.
“I look forward to working with all local businesses and industry in ensuring we can all return to work safely, when the time is right to do so, and begin the process of reviving and rebuilding our economy. It is your hard work, dedication and willingness to adapt that will help us to do this.”
Ian Paisley MP commended MEA businesses for their “tremendous resilience, agility and innovation” during the pandemic.
“Supported by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and its Manufacturing Task Force, local firms like Caterpillar and IPC Mouldings have been a major driving force in the borough’s recovery from the devastating economic blow stemming from the sudden closures of JTI and Michelin in recent years,” he said.
“Whilst there is no doubt that we face an even greater economic challenge now, this proven track record – together with the tremendous resilience, agility and innovation demonstrated by MEA businesses throughout pandemic – will stand this borough in very good stead in the coming months and years.”
Sammy Wilson MP continued: “We are still very much in the grip of a global pandemic and it is vital that MEA companies put in place robust recovery plans and measures to ensure that, collectively, we are on the front foot when it comes to our economic fightback.
“In addition to a wide range of programmes already being rolled out by the UK Government and NI Executive, it was encouraging to note today the vast amount of business support being provided by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council through its Amplify programme, Manufacturing Task Force and Buy Supply NI procurement portal.
“Strong collaboration like this between the private and public sectors – at UK, central and local government level – will be local businesses will be absolutely crucial to our journey to economic recovery in the months and years ahead.”
Alongside supporting local firms in the fight against COVID-19 in the immediate term, Council is continuing to make good progress on a number of important initiatives that will be crucial to the growth and sustainability of our economy in the longer term.
Chief among these is the Belfast Region City Deal – a hugely significant investment in our Borough, which Council is progressing with central government.
Council is also continuing to work closely with Queen’s University Belfast to secure a presence of the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (AMIC) in the borough, as well as ongoing efforts to secure a Heathrow Logistics Hub, which could see the creation of up to 5,000 new jobs locally.