The leaders of four major business membership organisations in Northern Ireland have come together to restore the Business Alliance and have called for politicians to “place the economy and skills at the top of their agenda”.
Established in the 1990s, the Alliance is a partnership between the Confederation of British Industry Northern Ireland (CBI NI), and the Centre for Competitiveness, the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland (IoD NI), the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The group will engage with civic and public society to promote the economy and encourage conversations on how to improve business conditions for the benefit of society.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the business bodies said:
“Having come into being before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the Business Alliance has played a key role in improving social and economic cohesion over many years. The joint group has worked closely with politicians in previous administrations to help create the conditions for sustainable economic growth.
“As we enter the new decade along with a restored Executive, the Business Alliance has come together once again to support Northern Ireland’s policy makers with navigating the challenges and seizing the opportunities of a post-Brexit era. The Business Alliance will provide a strong business voice to help our economy achieve its full potential.
“We believe there are significant opportunities ahead for the business community and politicians to collaborate on matters that will have a deep and long-lasting impact on the local economy and living standards.
“The commitments made in ‘New Decade, New Approach’ are of course welcome and the onus is on all of us to support the newly reformed Executive as it grapples with a decision-making backlog of more than three years, a major gap in funding and uncertainties stemming from Brexit.
“We need to be realistic about what is achievable in the short-term; but by prioritising the economy and in particular a new skills agenda, we will be laying the foundations for long-term progress.
“For too long, this region has suffered as a result of the brain drain that has seen so many of our most talented young people leave to pursue studies and careers elsewhere – and never return. This must be reversed but it will take the combined will of the business community, academia, and politicians.
“A robust and strong economy will help us pay for better health, better education and better social inclusion for the benefit of all.”
The leaders of the organisations that form the Business Alliance include: Adrian Doran ,Chair, CBI NI; Stephen Kingon, Chair, Centre for Competitiveness; Gordon Milligan, Chair, IoD NI; Ian Henry, President, NI Chamber; Angela McGowan, Director, CBI NI; Ann McGregor, Chief Executive, NI Chamber; Bob Barbour, CEO, Centre for Competitiveness and Kirsty McManus, Director, IoD NI.