An energised, ambitious and forward-thinking local authority which is strategically-positioned in a key economic region, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is already on track to deliver on its challenging ambitions.
Committed to delivering outstanding public services and to unlocking the potential of the region for the benefit of all its citizens and visitors, the council’s top priority is to grow the local economy by leveraging the strength of its people, its long-established business base and its strategic location.
With a population of more than 200,000 residents and 8,000 registered businesses, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon BC boasts a total workforce of 123,000 and is home to some of Northern Ireland’s largest and most successful companies including Moy Park, Tayto, Fane Valley, Irwin’s and Almac.
As a region, its contribution to the Northern Ireland economy is significant. In 2013, the council contributed more than 9.4 per cent of all economic output. Only the capital Belfast made a larger contribution.
The council is clear on its mission, on what it wants to achieve, and how it will deliver.
Building prosperity by developing and investing in infrastructure which connects its businesses and its people to markets and employment opportunities is a strategic priority.
The council is already working hard to facilitate a thriving business community in key growth sectors, including pharmaceuticals, engineering, agri-foods, the creative industry, and tourism.
Through its Regeneration & Development Strategy, key economic development projects and funded opportunities, the council is actively working to attract investment, stimulate growth, support its vitally-important SMEs, improve skills and increase employment.
With a vibrant and growing digital tech business community, the council is already investing in initiatives to facilitate the sector’s growth to 2017, particularly in ICT and electronics. The borough is also a strategic hub for Project Kelvin – the connection of a new direct telecommunications cable to North America. This project represents a major investment in broadband technology for Northern Ireland, opening up opportunities for businesses that depend on secure, ultrafast connections.
The council is also currently developing a new programme to build on the success of its EU-funded Life Sciences Supply Chain programme, which established a network of 50 local supply chain companies. The new programme will establish a European network of research-based organisations providing support to high-potential SMEs developing new products for the life and health sciences sector.
To deliver the skills and people to power growth in this important area, the council is supporting the further expansion and growth of the Southern Regional College (SRC) and a £90 million investment programme in the provision of world class learning facilities and in technology which capitalises on the potential and ambition of home-grown talent.
A HUB FOR TOURISTS
In a prime, easy-to-reach location, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon BC, has an unrivalled tourism offering and is driven to maximise its potential. From the inspiring beauty and the character of its countryside, the majestic Upper Bann, Lagan Valley and the environs of the Lough Neagh southern shoreline, the local authority boasts multiple unique assets.
As Ireland’s oldest city and its ecclesiastical capital, Armagh’s significance in the life of St Patrick, and as a global destination, continues to attract thousands of visitors every year. One of the world’s most important ancient sites, the Navan Centre and Fort, also provides excellent educational and tourism opportunities, alongside Armagh Planetarium.
The region is packed with bustling historic towns and charming villages, numerous forests and parklands.
Right throughout the region, from Armagh to Portadown, Banbridge, Lurgan, Craigavon and beyond, locals and visitors alike can enjoy a variety of cultural, historical, family-friendly and sporting activities. From the Tayto Park Factory Tour to the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, there are plenty of atractions to visit and things to do.
In collaboration with Tourism NI and local event organisers, the council is playing a key role in celebrating local produce as part of the official NI Year of Food & Drink festivities, and has developed a ‘Food Heartland Forum’ to advance the local agri-food sector. By championing local food and drink producers, the council’s Food Heartland Forum aims to enhance the tourism experience and expand local agri-food exports.
Investing in a long-term sustainable future, the council committed to investments worth more than £10.2 million in strategic capital projects in 2014/15.
This included a major redevelopment of the People’s Park in Portadown, the opening of the new Tommy Makem Arts and Community Centre in Keady and the significant refurbishment of Dromore Community Centre. Many local family play facilities across the area benefited from proactive and targeted investment, as well as ongoing investment programmes aimed at enhancing the quality of indoor and outdoor recreation facilities.
The council recognises the importance of partnerships, working with both the public and private sectors. Future strategic infrastructure projects involve such partnerships and projects including the extensive transformation of Armagh Gaol into a boutique hotel, the development of a new £30 million leisure facility at Craigavon South Lakes and enhancements at Solitude Park in Banbridge. There are many more projects in the pipeline, including numerous multi-million pound environmental improvement schemes in Keady, Lurgan, Portadown and Richill.
Community development lies at the heart of the council’s work. Providing information, advice, support and training to local residents, in addition to supporting new groups, co-ordinating responses to community needs and providing funding advice are key aspects of its commitment in this area.
Creating welcoming communities and neighbourhoods in the celebration of diversity, equality and good relations is vital.
Against this, the council is currently undertaking an extensive Financial Assistance Policy Scheme for groups who can provide services aligned to key council priorities. Delivering projects in community and rural development, good relations, arts, culture and events, almost £725,000 has been distributed to groups across the borough in 2015/16 with a further £1 million earmarked for 2016/17.
The new enlarged council area is a unique tapestry of contrasts: ancient – modern, urban – rural, industrial – agricultural, waterways – road and railways – which sets it apart from anywhere else in Northern Ireland.
Working collaboratively, and through hard work and dedication, elected members and its staff have already made significant progress on the road to success.
As the Corporate Plan 2014-2017 outlines: “We have a clear vision for how we want the borough to prosper and grow.”
To find out more, contact: Armagh
City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Economic Development Team on 0300 0300 900 or email: email@example.com