SINN Féin organised a well-attended business breakfast in Ballycastle to bring together local businesses and Invest NI.
North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay said: “The purpose of this engagement was to try and establish how Invest NI could be of direct help to local businesses. For example in terms of creating economic growth, helping those who wish to expand, and general support and guidance.
“It was an interesting exchange but the important thing is that we see actions arising in the wake of this. We clearly need to see better direct communications between local businesses and Invest NI. We also need to see how e-commerce can benefit local businesses and how Invest NI can support businesses that want to look at investing time and effort into developing that as a part of their business.
“Tourism is a key part of the local economy here and it is encouraging to hear many within the sector being enthusiastic about not only developing the tourism product but creating sustainable jobs for the young people coming out of Education locally and ensuring that local education and local business continue to work proactively to develop the skills base necessary.
Cllr Cara McShane added: “Invest NI can and has provided support for hotels and B&Bs and we need to maximise the uptake of that in Moyle.
“Invest NI also has a Jobs Fund available. This has been created in response to the economic downturn and aims to create 4000 new jobs by March 2014. In effect, Invest NI can pay an employment grant for each new job created in a business. The amount of the grant will vary depending on the salary of the new employee and the size of the business.
“From the meeting it was agreed that a Unique Selling Point App for Ballycastle could also be created. The App, which has been created in other Council areas with the help of Invest NI, would be aimed at attracting Foreign Direct Investment, giving compelling reasons to attract potential investors to this area.
“Other issues discussed included the potential oil exploration off our coastline and renewable energy projects. Broadband availability and speeds were also raised as issues, which Sinn Féin will continue to work at improving and continue to lobby the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.”
A spokesperson for Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce added: “The Chamber welcomes this initiative and the support of our local MLA and Councillor. It was a very worthwhile meeting and provided our members with a greater understanding of what Invest NI can do to support and encourage local businesses.”