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Bold and Ambitious Vision for the Northern Ireland Economy

Pictured at the launch of the Minister's Economic Vision are (l-r) Steve Orr, CEO Catalyst; Kirsty McManus, Director of the Institute of Directors; Economy Minister Diane Dodds; Dr Jayne Brady MBE, Belfast Digital Innovation Commissioner; Michael Ryan, vice president and general manager of Spirit AeroSystems Belfast; and Dr Joanne Stuart OBE, CEO of Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance.

The Economy Minister has launched her ambitious economic vision which will lead to better jobs with better wages and an improvement in people’s quality of life.

In ’10X Economy: An Economic Vision for a decade of innovation’ Minister Diane Dodds outlines the steps her Department will take to ensure Northern Ireland is positioned amongst the elite small open economies in the world.

The new vision for the economy has been endorsed by a wide range of business leaders from industry, the hospitality sector, digital, manufacturing and engineering.

Bold and Ambitious

Minister Dodds described her vision as “purposefully bold and ambitious”.

She said: “One hundred years ago, Northern Ireland was internationally renowned for its shipbuilding, rope works and linen factories. Today we are global leaders in cyber security, fintech and advanced manufacturing. We must be ready to embrace future economic trends and job opportunities for our people.

“Our economy has already been dramatically reshaped by the Covid-19 pandemic and the past year has highlighted the resilience and creativity of the business community. This new vision is centred on making Northern Ireland the most exciting place to do business and to do that I plan to focus on our strengths.

“A 10X ambition is about creating a step change in how we think about our economy. It is not a literalist term about increasing a single metric by a factor of ten; instead we are setting an ambitious pathway for fundamental change to our economy and committing to everyone feeling they are part of this transformation.”

The ’10X Economy’ identifies 10 guiding principles which underpin the vision. They include supporting a greener economy, inspiring the future generation to thrive, delivering improved outcomes for all and increasing innovation.

There will be a focus on priority clusters where NI can be a global leader and a future generation of workers will be inspired and prepared to respond flexibly to future skills requirements.

Minister Dodds added: “When our economy is thriving, Northern Ireland thrives. I have no doubt that Northern Ireland’s businesses are on the right path to recover, rebuild and rebound back stronger than ever.”

Digital Innovation

Dr Jayne Brady MBE, Belfast Digital Innovation Commissioner, said: “I am delighted to see that the role of digital innovation is recognised in the Department’s Economic Vision. We already have an extremely talented digital innovation sector and, with the right support and encouragement, it has the potential to transform our economy.”

Kirsty McManus, Director of the Institute of Directors (IOD) in Northern Ireland, said: “The IoD welcomes the publication of the Department’s Economic Vision which recognises the need to ensure Northern Ireland becomes a more enterprising region that supports new business development in any and all parts of the country. It also acknowledges the role that skills development will place in attracting businesses to invest and to take advantage of the exciting and emerging opportunities of the next decade.” 

Steve Orr, CEO Catalyst, said: “The Department’s Economic Vision sets out an ambitious – but achievable – vision centred around inclusive innovation in Northern Ireland. Focussing on sectoral clusters, such as digital tech, fintech and green tech, and funding innovation in the right way, means that Northern Ireland will be placed to compete on a global scale like never before.”

Dr Joanne Stuart OBE, CEO of Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance, said: “The NI Tourism Alliance, with members spanning all sectors of the tourism economy, is pleased to offer our support to the Department’s Economic Vision. We look forward to building on our successes in attracting visitors to our world class attractions, experiences and events, and collaborating with the Department to ensure tourism plays an important role in the wider transformation agenda.”

Michael Ryan, vice president and general manager of Spirit AeroSystems Belfast, said: “I welcome the Department’s Economic Vision. It builds upon Northern Ireland’s existing strengths and rightly focuses on the core sectors and advanced technologies where Northern Ireland can excel as a global leader in the next decade and beyond. As a company renowned for innovation, we know that it is a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity and can help deliver a more sustainable future for all.” 

Business

Murphy Announces Business Rates Revaluation

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has today announced a revaluation of all 74,750 non-domestic properties, delivering on his commitment for more frequent revaluations here.

Known as ‘Reval2023’, this process will result in a new non-domestic Valuation List being used to calculate business rate bills from April 2023.

Announcing the revaluation, Minister Murphy said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the economy resulting in changes between business sectors and this will feed through to changes to the rental values of many properties.

“Although the last revaluation was just over a year ago in 2020, I have asked Land & Property Services to bring forward another revaluation in the shortest possible time.

“Reval2023 will maintain fairness and ensure businesses are paying rates which take account of the impact of the pandemic.”

Commenting on support provided to businesses, Minister Murphy added: “Since April 2020, I have provided over £500 million of additional business rates support, with many businesses paying no rates at all over two years. The Executive has also provided significant financial support to businesses in the form of grants.

“As we look ahead to economic recovery and given the large scale of a revaluation it is important this work gets underway now.”

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises including shops, offices, warehouses, factories, hotels and pubs as well as utilities such as gas, water, electricity and wind farms.

Land & Property Services will begin collecting property information from business ratepayers later this year. This important information will form a database of new rental values as at 1 October 2021, instead of the current 2018 values, and will be used in assessing new rateable values for every property.

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Town and City Centre Investment Helping Thousands of Businesses in Their Recovery

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is pictured with Bryan Graham of Graham’s of Enniskillen who availed of Covid-19 Revitalise funding for his business to purchase new sanitizing stations and protective screens.

A £19.3million funding programme to support town and city centres recover from the impact of Covid-19 has helped thousands of businesses across councils, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has said. 

Launched in August 2020, initial funding for the Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme was for measures such as shop frontage and awnings/canopies; outdoor furniture; heaters and queueing systems. More recently the funding support longer term initiatives such as the creation of cycle paths and pedestrian walkways to encourage car-free shopping, small environmental improvements and the use of open space and vacant premises to provide safe facilities.

Total funding for the scheme was made up of £12million from the Department for Communities, £5million from the Department for Infrastructure and £2.3million from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

Speaking after visiting business in Enniskillen who availed of the funding Minister Hargey said: “The Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme is an excellent example of collaborative working and was created to help and support our urban and rural businesses deal with the impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In total the funding has supported over 3,000 businesses across the north which has helped them to reopen safely. The funding has also been used to encourage people back into our towns and city centres to spend time, to support our local businesses and ultimately to help keep our town and city centres alive and prosperous.

“It has delivered funding of £1.29million to Fermanagh & Omagh District Council to support a range of projects including grants to support businesses across the entire Council area as they prepared a pathway out of lockdown by assisting them to provide a safer shopping experience for all their customers. I was pleased to see at first hand today how some of this support has been received by businesses in Enniskillen.”

Cllr. Chris McCaffrey (Vice Chairperson) Fermanagh & Omagh District Council added: “Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to working in partnership to improve the lives of all the people of the district and this approach has delivered tangible benefits making the district an attractive place to live, work and visit.    

The Council has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Department for Communities over a number of years and it is a partnership we look forward to continuing to develop into the future for the benefit of our businesses and the wider community.   

The £1.2million funding through the Covid-19 Business Recovery and Revitalisation Grant Aid Scheme has been used to support businesses to respond to the impacts of the Covid-19 health pandemic, to encourage people to support local to aid economic recovery and to deliver schemes which will promote and revitalise our town centres.  

The Council will continue to work with the Department for Communities and other partners to provide assistance to local businesses and aid the recovery of the district into the future.”

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