KEY PRIORITIES 2018-2020
The Causeway Coast and Glens area finds itself in exciting times, with plenty of opportunity ahead, from the organic growth of tourism, to the arrival of the Golf in 2019. We also have Northern Ireland’s first Enterprise Zone located within our region and we need to continue to promote and connect the right people to make the most of this opportunity. Over the Summer, we have worked hard to produce a document that identifies our key priorities, and we are delighted to share this with you to describe our vision for the next couple of years through Infrastructure, Skills and Growth.
2019 is already looking like a dynamic year ahead – it is time for growth, it is time for
Northern Ireland, and it is time for Causeway Coast and Glens.
Our Causeway Coast and Glens area, according to recent figures, is the second highest council area in terms of renewable energy production, and we need to build on this towards energy parity and then beyond to energy export. However, we suffer from poor transport and energy infrastructure and we are raising this regularly and know that our local representatives are doing the same.
We need better transport between Belfast and Derry / Londonderry, and we need to see the airport strengthened not weakened. We need to lobby for high-quality road and rail infrastructure that connects our towns and villages allowing people and goods to travel here and move around.
Skills shortage is consistently raised as one of the biggest issues facing our members. There are job vacancies across our towns and villages, and employers cannot fill these because of the shortage of the appropriate skills in the local economy. A Causeway Welcome is a new initiative being developed by Causeway Chamber which will be designed to support members within the hospitality sector.
Our Businesses are well served with a large support network that includes Causeway Enterprise Agency, Roe Valley Enterprises, Ulster University, North-West Regional College (NWRC) and Northern Regional College (NRC) with their new build in Coleraine. These stakeholders have a multitude of courses and tools to help businesses access funding for training and upskilling employees ranging from engineering, IT, Leadership, Business Admin, etc. The existence of the University is paramount to our success as a region, and we need to do more to celebrate this and support the University in their local growth.
In many other sectors, we need to promote enterprise and apprenticeship models for schools, colleges, and University so that students and leavers can build up their knowledge of business, better preparing them for work or to set up their own business, and we need our businesses to be ready to take on and train new people – if every business in the area aimed for growth this would enable them to recruit new people, and we need to aspire to this.
The growth that we seek is sustainable growth, in the context of our environment and our people. The recession has been hard on us all, and for many continues to be – particularly those that have been unfairly impacted by austerity, and that have felt the draught of budgets cut. Over the past few years, we have all tightened our belts, and perhaps used the “lean and Mean’ justification to keep our business tight, but for many, the time is now right for expansion and growth – keeping close the wisdom learned from the recession and seeking sustainable growth in all areas.