The best of Northern Ireland business came together this week at the CBI's Annual Dinner to celebrate their successes and also to send out some clear messages to local politicians.
More Northern Ireland businesses are demonstrating global ambition as we create a globally competitive economy that works for everyone.
That was the message from CBI Northern Ireland Chair, David Gavaghan, as he welcomed guests to the business organisation’s regional Annual Dinner at Belfast Waterfront this evening. The event Strategic Partner was Barclays Bank, supported by MCS Group.
In his remarks to a sell-out audience of 600 guests, the CBI Northern Ireland Chair, David Gavaghan said:
“There is no denying that the business community faces huge challenges ahead. However, over our future growth is dependent on how successful Northern Ireland will be at supporting the creation of businesses that are at the cutting edge of the global economy.
“Both government and business can take lessons from two local people who confronted their fears and inhibitions to become global leaders in their respective fields. Colin Williams from Sixteen South is at the forefront of children’s film animation. Professor Sir John McCanny is a world leader in cyber security and led the initiative that created the Centre for Secure Information Technology here in Belfast. CSIT is now known as the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Cybersecurity and has facilitated the creation of over a thousand new jobs in the local knowledge economy.
“What they, and others like them, have achieved demonstrates that Northern Ireland has an abundance of talent. Government and business must work together to harness that talent and infuse it with the necessary ambition to facilitate the emergence of a new generation of Northern Irish global leaders.”
Explaining how local SMEs are being supported, Adrian Doran, Head of Corporate Banking, Barclays Bank said:
“SMEs are the backbone of our local economy and we really do have some world class small businesses – in the current climate it’s especially vital that these businesses get continued support to thrive and grow. At this event last year, we announced our £100m SME loan fund and we are delighted with how this has been taken up. Barclays UK has also recognised the sheer quality and quantity of high growth businesses in Northern Ireland, as Belfast has just been selected as a location for one of its Barclays Eagle Lab business incubators, its tenth in the UK. We are delighted to be opening this at Ormeau Baths in June.”
Following dinner the organisation hosted an exclusive panel debate with senior elected officials from the five leading regional political parties. Responding to questions from businesses, each representative was asked to outline their party’s economic ambitions for Northern Ireland.
Taking part were Steve Aiken MLA (UUP) Mark Durkan MP (SDLP), Stephen Farry MLA (Alliance), Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA (SF), and Gavin Robinson MP (DUP).
Commenting on the local political situation, CBI Northern Ireland Director, Angela McGowan said:
“The impact that any political vacuum has on the business community should never be underestimated. Having a devolved government up and running again before the end of June is critical for local firms - for economic policy and for job creation. Each day without a devolved government is a lost opportunity to make progress on the key economic issues that shape the Northern Ireland business landscape. A political vacuum comes with a very high economic price tag - it hinders business, it puts investment at risk, it deters FDI and it dramatically reduces our ability to deliver those job creation promises in the Programme for Government.
“Europe’s leaders will shortly be meeting to agree a common response to the Article 50 letter. Brexit is gathering pace, underlining the pressing need for a strong and cohesive political voice championing our interests in London, Dublin, and in Brussels, and ensuring Northern Ireland’s special circumstances are heard and understood.
“Closer to home, business wants to see immediate progress on delivering a lower corporation tax rate, the construction of the second North/South Interconnector, a step change of investment in transport infrastructure and a renewed focus on education reform to ensure no young person is left behind in an increasingly digitalised economy.
“The panel tonight demonstrates that business and elected officials have a common ambition of a globally competitive economy that works for everyone. That’s the easy part. What we need now is a clear joint focus on delivery through a new era of collaboration between government and business of all sizes and sectors.”
Highlights of CBI Northern Ireland Annual Dinner 2017
NOTES TO EDITORS
Strategic Partner -Barclays in Northern Ireland
Adrian joined Barclays in October 2000 with a remit to grow the bank’s Corporate Banking business in Northern Ireland. Since then Barclays has led some of the largest financing transactions completed in the region, and is now recognised as a leading player in the market. The bank has relationships with over 40% of the province’s top 50 companies, and is now actively expanding into the SME sector. Barclays has also established a market leading wealth management. Previously, Adrian trained as a chartered accountant with PwC, and worked in the firm’s Corporate Finance division, before spending four years in Bank of Ireland’s corporate banking team. Adrian is a member of the CBI Council in Northern Ireland and Chair of its Infrastructure Policy Forum. He is also a member of Senate of Queen’s University Belfast.http://www.barclayscorporate.com/uk-global-corporate-banking-presence/uk-ireland/northern-ireland.htm
Corporate Partner - MCS Group
MCS Group is a firm of ethical recruitment specialists, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland specialising in IT & Digital, Technical & Engineering, Professional Services, Accounting & Finance, Banking, Legal and Executive Search. For more information about MCS Group, visit www.mcsgroup.jobs
About the CBI
Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors which together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of the private sector-employed workforce. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world.
The CBI in Northern Ireland represents around 1/3 of the private sector workforce, and more than 60% of the largest employers in Northern Ireland. It is the leading business organisation influencing the policies of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.
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