A new strategy designed to supercharge the growth of the economy of the Mid South West (MSW) will create the right conditions for companies located in the region to flourish in the coming years. The Regional Economic Strategy is focused on boosting productivity across the three council areas of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council – which make up the Mid South West Region and will require businesses to play their part in helping to realise its ambitious goals. The strategy, which was developed following extensive research and analysis of the region’s economy and was informed by engagement with the region’s major employers, identifies challenges and opportunities and sets out four pillars to guide investment and grow the collective economy. The pillars are: future proofing the skills base, enabling infrastructure, boosting innovation and digital capacity and building a high performing tourism economy. By focusing on those areas, the overriding goals of increasing productivity, driving business growth, fully realising sectoral strengths and opportunities, creating more and better-paid jobs and ensuring the ongoing internationalisation of MSW can be achieved, Councillor Robert Irvine, Chair of the Mid South West Region Governance Steering Group, said. “Our ambitions for the Mid South West economy are far reaching, but we are confident that with the support of all stakeholders in the region they are wholly achievable. The analysis of the region’s economy was honest both in terms of identifying its strengths but also the areas where support and investment in a range of strategic interventions can have the most impact. “Through the Regional Economic Strategy, we will strive to create the conditions that the private sector needs to grow their businesses, employ more skilled staff and become internationally competitive. We are unashamedly ambitious as are our businesses and so by working together we can raise productivity and create a better future for everyone.” The strategy will enable the Mid South West Region to leverage financial investment from a range of sources – such as the Growth Deal funding announced by the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive, the PEACE PLUS Programme, the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, Innovate UK and other central government funding. Following the recent launch of the strategy by First Minister Arlene Foster MLA and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA at a socially-distanced event held at EDGE Innovate near Dungannon, Minister Dodds MLA, who also attended the launch said its overriding aims are more relevant than ever as the region recovers and rebuilds, adding that the support of the business community has been and will continue to be crucial. “This strategy provides an excellent framework to support the identification of Growth Deal projects and the councils are to be congratulated for coming together and working constructively” for the betterment of the region. She said sustained industry engagement will be key to its successful delivery. The strategy sets out several areas where growth is being impeded and how those impediments can be removed. Boosting productivity, connectivity and infrastructure, skills and making more of the region’s tourism offering are the focus of the strategy, which is structured around four intervention pillars.
MSW has engaged extensively with businesses and key sectors, with politicians locally, regionally and nationally, with central government, with education and the wider stakeholder community, and this engagement, particularly with businesses will continue. “We will continue to welcome the input and guidance of our industry/business base,” Councillor Irvine said. “Their ongoing engagement with this initiative is critical as we move to the next stage of development.” “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to supercharge the Mid South West economy and cement the Region’s position as Northern Ireland’s engine room.”