Mon 1st Jul 2013
Jun 2013: Harness positive developments to create a progressive economy
By Mark Nodder, President, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce
What a wonderful showcase of all that is good about Northern Ireland the recent GB Summit events in Belfast and Enniskillen turned out to be. Global viewers must surely have been impressed by the tremendous contribution of our young people in particular at what proved to be a truly inspirational session in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast and by the spectacularly beautiful backdrop that a wonderfully sunny Lough Erne provided.
Much, of course, has already been written about the potential for Northern Ireland, especially in economic terms, of this immensely successful event. Certainly the images flashed across the world from Fermanagh will, in time, benefit tourism here, and it was also good to see deliciously different food from artisan producers given pride of place at the G8 dinner and at the big media event in Castlecoole.
The whole programme also justified Prime Minister David Cameron’s fairy in Northern Ireland as a great place to visit and with which to do business.
The challenge facing everyone in Northern Ireland and the business community in particular is how to turn the positives created by the event into tangible benefits for everyone here and particularly our young people.
Global business will have seen that we have a pool of richly talented students committed to play their part in building a new and prosperous future for all here. It’s time to follow their lead and set put the past behind us. This doesn’t mean forgetting our history and traditions. What it involves is concentrating all our thoughts and energies on shaping a better future based on mutual respect and cooperation, building on the harmony and positivity demonstrated during the G8 events.
As employers, we need to do more to harness their talents and commitment. This means a greater willingness to invest in growth, helping to nurture the green shoots of recovery that are, at last, beginning to sprout.
It is also essential that we grasp quickly and constructively the opportunities offered in the recent economic pact crafted by Mr Cameron and the First and Deputy First Ministers. Elements of the pact, of course, still have to be teased out, while we continue to press for a reduction in Corporation Tax.
Among the issues to be explored is the Government’s willingness to discuss the potential of its Enterprise Zone approach in Britain with the Executive. The Chamber is convinced that there’s much to be gained especially by smaller businesses in terms of operating costs of this approach.
It’s also one of the planks in our economic manifesto that we believe can help to drive business here forward faster. We will work closely with the Executive to bring a zone into being as quickly as practicable.
What we must do is to harness the positive developments over the past few weeks to create a more dynamic and progressive economy that will bring worthwhile benefits for everyone here in both short and long terms.