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Small businesses ‘hit hardest by economic downturn’

The Assembly committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, chaired by SDLP MLA Alban McGuinness held a meeting at IntertradeIreland in Newry on Thursday. InterTradeIreland the cross- border trade and business development body informed the committee of the recent findings from its All Island Business Monitor Survey which reported that nearly half of small businesses with less thaw than 10 employees contracting, trying to survive or winding up. During the meeting InterTradeIreland’s Chief Executive Liam Nellis said: “Our research is showing that small businesses especially those focused on local markets are being disproportionally impacted by the prolonged economic downturn. We have responded to this need by launching a number of new supports that are designed to help small businesses diversify their market, product and service portfolios. These new initiatives include the InterTradeIreland Innovation Challenge Programme which aims to help firms transform their business prospects in just 9 months.” Mr Nellis explained: “Reversing the process of decline for small firms is a key focus for InterTradeIreland and we believe the Irish market offers a significant opportunity for small firms in Northern Ireland to identify new markets and increase their sales, We are continuing to develop and roll out new practical supports for small firms including our new sales development programme Elevate which is to officially launched next month.” The committee was also informed of InterTradeIreland’s range of innovation supports and disclosed the body’s strategic vision to create an all-island innovation “ecosystem”  with the enterprise at its core as well as its new range of supports to increase the amount of European funding secured by SMEs through North South collaboration . During the first half of 2011 InterTradeIreland supported 1,799 SMEs through its range of cross- border services and programmes and generated around £73m in business value. In 2010 over 3000 companies accessed information advice and support through InterTradeIreland programmes and the organization delivered an 11-fold turn on investment, its highest level since it was established in 2000,


Newry Democrat

4th October 2011