‘Let’s shout so much louder about our investment proposition’ says NI Chamber President

  • Photo: NI Chamber’s new President, Caitroina McCusker

    NI Chamber’s new President, Caitroina McCusker has reiterated calls for business and government to work together to define and boldly articulate Northern Ireland’s unique investment proposition to the world.

    Addressing more than 400 business leaders at the membership organisation’s Annual Lunch in Belfast City Hall she said:

    “We’ve got huge advantages – our talented people and propensity for innovation, an abundance of natural resources to support the secure supply of clean energy and unique dual market access. At NI Chamber, we’re very clear about the need to agree and articulate what our investment proposition looks like – and to shout so much louder about it.”

    With a General Election just weeks away, she outlined what NI Chamber and its member businesses believe the next UK government could do to supercharge sustainable economic growth across Northern Ireland:

    “Northern Ireland needs a new and ambitious permanent fiscal framework. One which not only sets a workable fiscal floor for Executive spending, but also enables investment to boost the economy. To instil confidence and drive more efficient public services, NI Chamber has also called for the Executive to agree an independent review of public spending.  

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    “We have a unique opportunity to position Northern Ireland as a leader in clean energy. Using our strengths in natural energy resources, we can help the UK to reach agreed international targets.”

    Turning to the interventions needed to boost the region’s competitiveness and enhance its reputation as a global leader, the Regional Market Leader for PwC NI said:

    “We must provide the right economic environment for our businesses to be competitive here and across the globe by tackling the corporation tax question, addressing skills gaps, boosting innovation and maximising our trading opportunities. We want to see the next government working with business across the UK to tackle near-market red tape in trade with GB, the Republic of Ireland and Europe and provide greater support for our businesses to access international markets.

    “Critically, access to the right people with the right skills must be facilitated if we’re to develop the workplace and the workforce of the future. Effective migration and mobility policies aligned with regional economic need are a top requirement, along with long overdue support for childcare and reform of the Apprenticeship Levy.”

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    With special guests from the cast and crew of BBC drama series, Blue Lights, the event placed a focus on Northern Ireland’s burgeoning creative industries. Lauding the talent emerging from the region, Cat said: “We have the locations and the studio facilities and we also have the people, working in a whole range of craft and support skills. And we are constantly adding to that capability, not least through the development of Studio Ulster, a £72m large scale virtual production complex right here in Belfast.

    “We have the capacity to create jobs and exports; to drive innovation, attract investment and tourists and to entertain audiences the world over. At NI Chamber, we recognise the potential which exists, which has why we’ve placed a specific focus on support for Digital, Tech and Creative Industries in our recent manifesto.”

    NI Chamber’s 2024 Annual Lunch was delivered with the support of Communications Partner BT, as well as supporting sponsors Cleaver Fulton Rankin, Cushon and GMcG, along with drinks reception sponsor, Dell Technologies.

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    Addressing the audience, Paul Murnaghan, Regional Director for BT Business said: “As one of Northern Ireland’s largest investors and employers, BT remains committed to Northern Ireland and to playing a pivotal role in the local economy here. With investments of £632 million, we are leading the way in driving technological innovation, in future-proofing our local digital infrastructure and in putting the needs of the public and private sectors at the heart of our work here.

    “Northern Ireland has so much potential for business growth, development and success. Last year, we reopened the multi million pound refurbishment of Riverside Tower displaying our commitment to Belfast as a strategic long term location for BT in the future. I’m also pleased to say that we’re continuing to invest, develop and deliver 5G led innovations with partners and customers.

    "The business also recently announced that it is to invest over £100million to expand and maintain Openreach’s Ultrafast Full Fibre network. These investments will continue to keep businesses connected when they need it most.”

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