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Minister hails Newry ICT centre as unemployment figures rise

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has hailed a Newry based incubation centre for new businesses as an “invaluable service” in rebuilding our economy – just 24hrs after latest figures revealed a three point four per cent increase in the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Newry and Mourne. The Minister was speaking as she visited Empowering Change in Emerald Valley a privately funded entrepreneurial incubation centre in Newry which provides co-working space for a number of technology and other business start-ups. She highlighted  the important role of the IT sector in attracting potential investors to Northern Ireland: “The IT sector is central to our economic growth and so it is hugely encouraging to see facilities such as this which give assistance to innovative and cutting edge companies in areas such as web design, social media and digital marketing. My Department through Invest Northern Ireland will continue to offer support to fledgling businesses in the ICT sector as we seek to attract high quality investment here.” Empowering Change in Emerald Valley offers facilities for businesses and entrepreneurs including conference, exhibition space and broadband. It also provides wrap around business development activities to help tenants grow through networking, advice and access to business coaching expertise. The Minister added: “Northern Ireland possesses a highly skilled ICT workforce and start-ups such as those based in Empowering Change in Emerald Valley are invaluable if we are to establish the knowledge-based economy upon which our future competitiveness will largely rest.” Meanwhile the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Newry and Mourne continues to rise. In July the number of people claiming benefit increased to 3,789 – and increase of 123 people on the previous month. The district still has the highest number of claimants in the north outside Belfast and Derry. However the figures represent a 7.2 per cent reduction in the number of claimants in the district from the same time last year.


Newry Democrat

21 August 2012