A DELEGATION of business leaders, politicians and council officials will this week tell the UK Government of its plans to press the fast-forward button on Northern Ireland’s economic growth through the proposed £1bn Belfast Region City Deal.
The substantial economic opportunity includes plans for around £80m of investment in Mid and East Antrim – a blueprint aimed at re-energising an area which has dealt with a number of significant economic shocks in recent years with the loss of more than 2,000 manufacturing jobs.
The Mid and East Antrim delegation will showcase its plans to reaffirm the area’s position as the engine room of the Northern Ireland economy through a once-in-a-generation cash injection in projects across the borough aimed at growing the economy, boosting jobs, increasing skills, encouraging investment and developing infrastructure.
This includes proposals to extend The Gobbins cliff path, the regeneration of Carrickfergus and the creation of an innovation and inspiration centre at the St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena.
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council will host an engagement event at Westminster on Wednesday morning.
This will be followed by the Belfast Region City Deal Communications and Engagement Event in the Terrace Pavilion, hosted by the Belfast Region City Deal.
The Belfast Region City Deal sets out a vision to create 20,000 new and better-paid jobs across the region’s growth sectors; pushing the ‘fast-forward’ button on inclusive economic growth and ensuring opportunities are accessible across all of our communities.
It will also improve infrastructure, digital connectivity, visitor attractions and innovation hubs; and deliver a major skills and employability programme.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, alongside the other local authority partners, have been working in close collaboration with the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury as well as our Universities and Further Education Colleges to agree the priority projects for submission to Westminster.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Lindsay Millar, said the City Deal proposals demonstrated huge potential for economic growth and investment in the borough and throughout Northern Ireland.
She said: “The number one strategic priority of our council is growing the economy.
“We’re delighted that we are continuing our negotiations to secure this significant investment into the borough and Northern Ireland as a whole.
“By working together, we can deliver more jobs, visitors and economic growth for our local people.”
Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Anne Donaghy said: “As a council, we are fully committed to supporting business growth and development, and promoting an environment that encourages and facilitates investment in our borough.
“We focus our efforts on being an enabler to the wealth creators.
“To do that we have evolved, adopting a private-sector approach to improve our own efficiency and ensure we are embedded in the local business community to understand exactly what they need.
“Together with the backing of our elected representatives – who have demonstrated unwavering support to our focus on economic growth – we have introduced and delivered a number of initiatives which have the potential to transform the economy in this borough.
“The Belfast Region City Deal is vital to our ambitious vision and blueprint for a vibrant economy in Mid and East Antrim, and Northern Ireland.”
The partner councils include Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ards and North Down, Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh, Newry, Mourne and Down.
For more information you can go to www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/CityDeal and follow #BRcitydeal on Twitter.