The value of enterprise for economic development

Marking 10 years at the helm of Enterprise Northern Ireland, Gordon Gough outlines his belief that enterprise remains the engine room for economic development in Northern Ireland.

“Enterprise Northern Ireland, as the leading agency for the promotion, development and delivery of enterprise support interventions has been at the centre of this,” says Gough.

As the representative organisation for the region’s Local Enterprise Agencies, Enterprise Northern Ireland is at the forefront of a dynamic network which provides aspirant entrepreneurs and existing businesses with access to the premises, programmes, finance and support they need to start and grow their business.

Headline figures over the past 10 years include over 30,000 business start-ups supported via the local enterprise agencies in partnership with Invest NI and local councils. Also, since Start Up Loans was brought to Northern Ireland in 2013, as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s economic pact, the Enterprise Northern Ireland network has disbursed around £4.5 million to over 600 new businesses.

The context for enterprise in Northern Ireland is the greater economic development powers that reside with local councils. “The local enterprise agency network, with its wealth of experience in business start-up support, will be a key strategic partner going forward. Small businesses are the life-blood of the Northern Ireland economy and it is vital that all enterprise support providers are working together to grow the private sector in Northern Ireland,” adds Gough.

Enterprise Northern Ireland recently launched their Enterprise Manifesto which had five key asks from Government, namely:

  1. Support Local Enterprise Agencies – they are embedded in their communities;
  2. Put ‘enterprise’ at the heart of the Department for the Economy;
  3. Focus on microenterprises and SMEs;
  4. Improve the entrepreneurial culture; and
  5. Reduce the cost of doing business.

“These five policy requests will go a long way to rebalancing the economy by increasing the number of sustainable micro and small businesses and creating sustainable employment. Furthermore, by helping people starting new businesses to succeed and reducing the number of business failures all stakeholders will ensure enterprise is appreciated as a vital part of life in Northern Ireland,” explains Gough.

“Enterprise Northern Ireland with its strong and demonstrable track record in supporting those who set up in business, grow existing businesses, or try again after an earlier failure, has the skills, knowledge, experience and reach to work with policymakers to set the small business policy agenda for the future. We see particular opportunities for working collaboratively around ensuring that enterprise is at heart of the Programme for Government.

“Here’s to another 10 years of enterprising Northern Ireland.”


Twitter: @EnterpriseNI

Enterprise Northern Ireland is the membership organisation for Local Enterprise Agencies. 

There are 28 Local Enterprise Agencies across Northern Ireland providing a range of business support services.

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