Senior leaders from across the Mid South West (MSW) Region who met virtually last month are embarking on a process to develop business cases for a range of strategic projects that will help to deliver the MSW Regional Economic Strategy and secure Growth Deal investment.

The strategy’s ambition is to supercharge the growth of the collective MSW economy and ensure inclusive prosperity. To help achieve this ambition, more than 20 projects will be developed by the MSW Councils in collaboration with Partner agencies to secure a Growth Deal investment of just over a quarter of a billion pounds from the UK and NI Governments. Developed over the next 10-15 years, the projects will turbo charge economic growth in the MSW region.

The projects will tackle specific challenges which are impeding economic growth across three key investment areas: enabling infrastructure; boosting innovation and digital capacity; and building a high-performing visitor/tourist economy. All of the projects will consider the impact on skills development and will require close cooperative working between a number of partners.

Wide ranging in their nature, many of the projects will be at the cutting edge of innovation, including a proposed NI Agri-Food Robotics Centre at CAFRE’S Loughry Campus and an Engineering, Skills and Innovation Centre being spearheaded by the South West College.  Investment will also be targeted in new strategic road networks, industrial sites, the regeneration of our town centres and in tourist destinations including the Sperrins, Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark and Armagh City, among others.

Welcoming colleagues to the meeting, Roger Wilson, Chief Executive of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said: “Collaboration is key. By working together and pooling our resources, knowledge and influence we can achieve so much more for the benefit of the entire MSW region, socially and economically. We can create more and better jobs, drive our vision to supercharge the economy, secure sustainable investment and attract more visitors to our beautiful region.”

Peter Simpson, Head of Food Technology Branch at CAFRE added: “CAFRE is delighted to be a partner and to be working in collaboration with the Councils and other Partner agencies to secure investment on the scale that the Growth Deal will deliver which will be truly transformational for this region.  We very much welcomed the opportunity to meet with all of the partners last month not least because it marked a significant milestone in our journey to date, and while we do not underestimate the challenge ahead, we can and will achieve great things by working together.”