‘We help our members grow through a variety of networking opportunities.’

NI Small Business Conference with Minister Arlene Foster

Minister Arlene Foster was the keynote speaker at the inaugural NI Small Business Conference hosted by Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade in Newry and supported by Invest NI and Newry & Mourne District Council.


Over 130 business delegates from acrossNorthern Irelandattended the half day event which took place in the Canal Court Hotel. Other keynote speakers included Padraig Canavan, founder of Singularity which sold for £30m; Mark Gowdy, White’s Speedicook and Adrian Toner, First Derivatives, a Newry company with global success.  Informative workshops were delivered by Invest NorthernIreland, InterTradeIreland, Stakeholder Communications, PKF-FPM, Labour Relations Agency and Ionology.


President Deborah Loughran, Newry Chamber stated, “we are delighted with the success of this event.  The vast majority of companies in Northern Irelandare SME’s whose biggest challenge is winning new business.  This event provided a wealth of exceptional advice from industry leaders to delegates on meeting this challenge head on.  The Minister’s support in attending this important event is evidence of key role that SME’s provide to the NI economy’. 

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster said:


“Today’s conference provided an ideal opportunity for small businesses to expand their network of contacts and to learn about the support services available from Invest NI and others that are committed to achieving economic growth and job creation within the region. 


“While there is no room for complacency, recent indicators for the local economy have been positive and it is encouraging that businesses are beginning to see signs of recovery. Our companies are continuing to broaden their horizons andNorthern Irelandcontinues to be an attractive location for globally mobile investment across a range of sectors. Expansion plans announced recently by businesses in the area, including the announcement of 60 new jobs by Autoline in Newry, are proof of that.


“Improving economic competitiveness can only be achieved by working in partnership with the business community. AsNorthern Irelandis a small business economy, I want to continue to help small firms grow through export success and innovation.”


Mayor Daire Hughes, Newry & Mourne District Council stated, “Newry & Mourne District Council was glad to support the NI Small Business Conference. Newry & Mourne is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit with 7% of all of the North of Ireland businesses located here, yet only 5% of the population.  Hosting this conference in Newry has helped showcase our successful indigenous business sector”.


Mark Bleakney, Invest NI’s Southern Regional Manager, said: “One of our core priorities is to help small businesses grow and develop through export success and innovation.  This conference provided an important opportunity to highlight the contribution these businesses make towards growing theNorthern Irelandeconomy.”