The vital role of the Northern Ireland Smallest Business Sector to the local economy was the key message from this year’s Annual NI SME Business Conference & Expo, held in Newry.
Hosted by one of Northern Ireland’s largest membership organisations, Newry Chamber, more than 200 delegates from across Northern Ireland attended the conference.
The event was supported by Principal Sponsors, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Supporting Sponsors, Federation of Small Businesses NI, British Business Bank and Southern Regional College.
Edwina Flynn, Vice President of Newry Chamber commented:
“As a Chamber, we recognise the importance of nurturing our small businesses and equipping them with the essential skills and resources to foster growth. In the business world, it’s the large global companies that often seize the attention. Yet it is the small business sector, which is the life blood of our economy.”
The conference featured over 20 expert speakers and over 20 exhibitors who provided small businesses with support and advice across a range of areas. Topics covered at the conference included Finance & The Economy, Smart Business Practices, Sales & Marketing, Recruiting & Retaining Talent as well as two sectoral workshops covering the Future of High Streets and Tourism as an Economic Driver.
Valerie Harte, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council said:
“It is an exciting time for businesses in Northern Ireland. There are a wide range of support services in the enterprise ecosystem that can assist businesses grow and develop to support the economy. The Council is committed to supporting businesses in our District, we have two exciting programmes that will be launched in the coming weeks that will offer a range of support services including grants.”
Roger Pollen, Head of External Affairs NI at FSB NI added:
“Small businesses are the backbone of the local economy and employ more people in Northern Ireland than all large businesses and the entire public sector combined. That’s why events such as this conference are essential in sharing knowledge, ideas and best practice. We are pleased to continue to support Newry Chamber in this excellent annual expo.”
Susan McKane, Senior Manager NI at British Business Bank commented:
“The British Business Bank was delighted to be one of the Supporting Sponsors at such an important event in the SME business calendar.”
“Smaller businesses across Northern Ireland play such a vital role in our economy and events like this are so important to provide advice, encouragement and networking opportunities. The connections business owners make at conferences like this one can be invaluable.”
“There was a carefully curated programme with some informative sessions from a wide range of expert speakers and it was great to see such a strong attendance from the business community.”
“As the government’s economic development bank, the Bank is dedicated to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses. So, whether you’re looking for finance to start a business, scale up in a sustainable way or take steps on your net-zero journey, we can support you and point you in the right direction.”
Tracy Rice, Head of Business Engagement at SRC said:
“SRC is delighted to support Newry Chamber’s annual SME conference. It is always a well-attended event, packed with lots of important information, tips and guidance for SMEs to help them innovate, compete and grow.”
“The event offered an excellent networking opportunity for attendees to share their knowledge and expertise. The optimism and energy in the room today bodes well for the small business sector in NI.”