Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon: Entrepreneurial Place

Economic Development and the growth of the area is the number one priority for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. With some of Northern Ireland’s largest employers and a thriving local SME sector confidence and optimism in the area is not misplaced.

Entrepreneurial region

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough has an excellent range of businesses, over 8,000 in total. Contributing 9.4 per cent GVA equating to £2.9 billion, meaning that the value of goods and services produced is the second highest of any council area in Northern Ireland.

With a very young population, a strategic location with strong infrastructure, an open and accessible land bank and effective partnerships with both industry and education providers, it’s evident why businesses come and stay here in the borough.

Supporting business enterprise, business growth and innovation is a key commitment of the council within five key growth sectors: Agri-Food; Health and Life-Science; Advanced Manufacturing; DigiTech; and the Visitor Economy.

To help this strong entrepreneurial spirit, council supports businesses with a range of programmes. There are also number of forums designed to build partnerships and networks to help businesses reach out to each other for support, training and business growth.

Lord Mayor, Alderman Gareth Wilson says: “This area is home to outstanding industry and entrepreneurs who have real drive and passion to innovate, to grow and to export. Council actively supports both larger employers and smaller businesses and we are committed to making it easy to do business here and ultimately to attract new business into the borough.”

Lord Mayor, Alderman Gareth Wilson

Advanced manufacturing

Manufacturing in the area has evolved from traditional heavy industry to a sector that is a critical driver of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. From NC Engineering in Hamiltonsbawn, to Glen Dimplex NI in Craigavon, through to Environmental Fabrications Ltd in Dromore, Council is committed to building on the success of a number of technology-led firms to become a centre of excellence for the sector.


There are 130 DigiTech businesses located in the borough, making it one of the largest DigiTech sector bases in Northern Ireland. Consequently, council has introduced a suite of DigiTech programmes aimed at both traditional and digital-tech businesses and the emerging workforce.

Alan McMurray, Total Hockey, Banbridge explains: “Our business is Total Hockey; we are a hockey retailer based in Banbridge. In 2008 we built an online presence, learnings from digital has been very good for us. We have focused very much on the social media side with Facebook, building up a strong presence there. We established good links and from there we’ve worked on developing our platforms on Instagram and Twitter. Now we sell all around the world.”


Council’s pioneering Food Heartland initiative was recently named overall winner in two top categories at the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards, beating stiff competition for the coveted accolades. Food Heartland secured top billing in the ‘Best Food Story’ and the ‘Roots to Market’ categories. These awards recognised the genuine partnership working and collaboration between council, local producers, chefs, and stakeholders who have worked together to brand the borough and champion local food and drink.

The borough is now officially acknowledged as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland due to the significance of food and drink production and high quality places to eat and drink.

When asked about working with the council on the Food Heartland Forum Brian Irwin, Chairman of Irwin’s Bakery in Portadown says: “We are a baking business which has been going for 104 years. We do business all over the British Isles, with half our business in Northern Ireland and the other 50 per cent exported. Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough has had such a huge success in the agri-food sector because of the clustering of support companies for Food and Drink businesses, from transport to specialist engineering. One of the nice things about cooperating with Council was the way they seized the opportunity, creating a food forum where all the food businesses could get together with the Council. With a little bit of encouragement, we discussed the whole concept of the Food Heartland.”

Pictured at the launch of the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Advanced Manufacturing, Materials & Engineering Sector Strategy Action Plan are (L-R) Nicola Wilson Head of Department: Economic Development; Roger Wilson, Chief Executive; Rob Hardeman, Chair of Matrix NI AMME; Cllr Colin McCusker, Vice Chair of Council’s Economic Development & Regeneration Committee; Andrew Webb from Webb Advisory; and Olga Murtagh Strategic
Director – Place.

Health and Life Science

Council is refocusing its strategy to develop a strong supply chain, encourage upskilling, increase employment and apprenticeships in the Health & Life Sector sector and support research and development.

“The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organisation that provides an extensive range of integrated services globally to companies within the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors. We continue to work with the Council in a number of different areas, from skills development through to the life sciences strategy. We welcome the opportunity to support these activities, in light of our future requirements for skilled employees as well as having the necessary infrastructure to support the sector. We believe our significant recent expansion announcements, totalling over £50 million of investment, here in Craigavon, in the EU and the US, are great news both for Almac and the Borough,” says Dr Simon Grattan, Government Liaison and Network Manager, Almac Group, Craigavon.
To find out more about doing business within our Borough contact:





Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

T: 0300 300 900


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