Lisburn Chamber hosts Minister on first visit to Lisburn
Lisburn Chamber of Commerce was delighted to welcome Diane Dodds MLA, Minister for the Economy to their recent Economic Review and Brexit Update.
The breakfast event was held at Vic Ryn café and conference centre and also speaking were Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Richard Ramsey, Chief Economist Ulster Bank and Stephen Kelly, CEO Manufacturing NI. A large number of representatives from the local business community attended the event which was supported by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council.
The keynote address by the Minister focused on a message that Northern Ireland must capitalise on its strengths in emerging industries in order to deliver an expanding economy and it must invest in innovation to stay ahead.
The Minister said: “A strong, local economy is the foundation to a stable Northern Ireland. Our new Economic Strategy will provide the opportunity to set out a clear roadmap to economic growth. “We have real strengths and can compete on the world stage in areas such as cyber security, artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced manufacturing, materials and engineering. Northern Ireland is currently the top location for US cyber security investments and artificial intelligence is a key emerging technology impacting us.”
The Minister told representatives from the local business community: “We must build on this and that is why I am examining the potential establishment of an AI Centre for Excellence for Northern Ireland. It is vital we invest in innovation and in research and development.
“We need to ensure we have a skills pipeline to meet current and future skills needs. By doing this we will help people progress up the skills ladder and we will support higher productivity levels. To drive continued growth in our economy, I remain committed to encouraging our local firms to grow in size through a culture of entrepreneurship.”
The Minister said that she recognised that a small region like Northern Ireland needs to look beyond its shores to succeed and she encouraged more local companies to export their goods, products and services out of Northern Ireland. Concluding, the Minister said: “Finally, we will look to build a supportive, competitive economic infrastructure. Physical and digital connectivity is vital to allow Northern Ireland to compete on the global stage. This is why my department is developing new strategies for energy, skills and tourism.”
Lisburn Chamber President, Garry MacDonald thanked the four speakers for their insightful contributions and commented,” this morning’s event has been extremely successful and the key message to focus on the opportunities of brexit will be taken on board by the businesses represented here today.”