European relations and trade were the theme for East Antrim Alliance’s annual business breakfast last Friday morning.
East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson welcomed business owners, employers, community organisations and Alliance Party colleagues from across Carrickfergus, Larne, and Newtownabbey to the event in Carrick Golf Club.
Whilst focusing on the work undertaken at central government and at local level to get people back into training and employment, participants also examined European opportunities and the social enterprise sector.
Special guest speakers included Gareth Kirk, Regional Director of GLL (Greenwich Leisure Ltd), Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry MLA, and Justice Minister, David Ford MLA.
A range of business types were represented, from sole traders, small and medium-sized businesses to some of Northern Ireland’s largest employers.
Opening the event, Mr Dickson spoke of the work Alliance politicians are doing to boost employment and economic growth, including tackling division and working to create a shared society, free from intimidation, discrimination and fear.
“East Antrim benefits immensely from its position in the single market, and therefore Northern Ireland must remain within the EU, or lose out on investment to competitors on the continent,” he added.
Gareth Kirk of GLL provided an overview of the services his company provides and highlighted the many facilities GLL manages on behalf of Belfast City Council,
“GLL is a charitable social enterprise that works for the benefit of everyone; the public, the communities they work in, the environment, staff and partner organisations,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Farry noted the decline in unemployment which fell for 27 consecutive months from April 2013 to June 2015 and is now falling again after a slight increase in July. He also emphasised the need to develop and up-skill the engineering sector in Northern Ireland.
The potential of corporation tax being reduced was a major point of interest for many businesses, and how it could prove to be the catalyst for East Antrim to truly power private sector job creation.
Speaking after the event, Stewart Dickson praised the event as the “most successful” business breakfast in East Antrim yet.
“It showed that, working together, we can all promote a strong and high quality brand for East Antrim in particular, and for Northern Ireland in general, to bring about positive change for everyone in our community,” he said.