The importance of the agri food sector to the local economy and its growth potential was the subject of a Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) briefing at the Balmoral Show on Wednesday 16 May.
The briefing focused on the way that the local banking sector supports this important and innovative sector, enabling companies to grow their products and to reach new export markets.
With the agri food sector in Northern Ireland currently generating around 20% of local private sector employment, Michael Bell, Executive Director at NI Food and Drink Association told business members and visitors to the show that access to further investment is crucial to improving the export possibilities for local businesses.
Phil Flanagan MLA and NIABT board member said: “We can all agree that the agri-food sector is a real driver for our local economy both in terms of job creation and export potential. I also believe that if we are able to grow this sector we will also help to increase employment opportunities beyond our urban areas.
“Banks have an important part to play, both in supporting new and expanding businesses and by providing advice and investment expertise to encourage firms to innovate and to access crucial financial support.
“The NIABT is keen to encourage increased collaboration between both sectors to ensure that rural business initiatives have access to the information and funding required to further stimulate rural growth which ultimately will serve to benefit the local economy as a whole.
Cormac McKervey, Head of Agriculture at the Ulster Bank was also on hand at the briefing to underline the bank’s commitment to developing the agri food sector through farming finance and by helping rural businesses to grow through innovation and research and development initiatives.
Notes to Editors:
The Northern Ireland Assembly and Business Trust (NIABT) works to forge links with, and promote the exchange of knowledge and information between, local businesses and parliamentarians in Northern Ireland and in Europe. Open to businesses from all sectors and of all sizes, the NIABT organises activities including monthly breakfast briefings, educational visits, fellowships and seminars as well as annual visits to the European Parliament and Westminster. Further information on the work of the NIABT is available at www.niabt.org
- to provide Assembly Members (MLAs) with a better insight into how local businesses work, helping them to make informed judgements when reviewing Department policy and legislation relating to the local economy.
- to improve the business community’s understanding of how the Assembly and devolution work and how policy and legislation is developed.
Further information on the NIABT Balmoral briefing can be found at http://niabt.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Balmoral-Flyer.pdf
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