A number of key businesses in the Mid, South and West (MSW) region met this week to inform the development of a Regional Economic Strategy to drive economic growth and prosperity across the region.

Representatives from 18 companies met in Armagh City as part of a unique collaboration between the three councils which form the MSW region: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council.

They put forward their ideas as to how business growth can be maximised by using economic levers including the recently announced Growth Deal funding, a multi-million pound investment for the region.

Companies taking part in the information and workshop session included Almac, Heron Bros, Strathroy Dairy, SDC, Balcas and Hyster-Yale Group.

Their ideas will be amalgamated with the findings from a recent meeting of the MSW Governance Steering Group made up of Councillors from across the three Council areas, as well as feedback from a meeting of umbrella business organisations to be held later this week.

The Regional Economic Strategy will be focused on improving productivity; creating more and better jobs; addressing economic infrastructure; growing investment; supporting business innovation; growing tourism and improving skills across the MSW region.

Councillor Mealla Campbell, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, said:  “The input of business is essential for us to develop a Regional Economic Strategy which smoothes the path for the MSW economy and will allow it to build on the progress it has made in the last few years. With the right support we can help these great businesses become even greater and cement this region’s reputation as an economic powerhouse.”

Councillor Siobhán Currie, Chair of Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, said: “Business sits at the heart of the Mid, South and West Regional Economic Strategy so garnering their opinion at this early stage is essential to allow us to form a plan which really works. We will use their insight to utilise all the economic levers available to enable the region to flourish.”

Councillor Martin Kearney, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, said: “In order to ensure we develop a Regional Economic Strategy which answers the needs of business, we have brought together the people who are driving the economy in the MSW region to gather their insight. That information will sit at the core of our planning for a more prosperous future for everyone across the three council areas.”