A real source of inspiration I get whilst doing business in Northern Ireland comes from the spirit, confidence and infectious enthusiasm of the local entrepreneurs I interact with every day.
By demonstrating the ingenuity to develop and commercialise viable business ideas, the ambition to seize the opportunity in adversity and the courage to embrace the challenges of tomorrow, these entrepreneurs and innovators should inspire us all through their efforts; efforts which will create a brighter and more stable economic future for Northern Ireland.
The seemingly infinite pool of global credit that was such a dominant feature of all our lives over the past decade has all but disappeared, leaving in its wake an almost unparalleled degree of economic austerity that has burdened business owners across the province with immense financial and, in many cases personal, hardship.
Yet, despite the difficulties presented by such a challenging economic environment and the inevitable need for Northern Ireland to reduce its reliance on public sector employment, significant opportunities exist for our economy through the contribution and ambition of our entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs such as Brian Conlon of First Derivatives Plc, overall winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2010 and soon to travel to take part in the World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Monte Carlo, other past Entrepreneur of the Year finalists and indeed many of our current year nominees, inspire me through the global success they have achieved and, more importantly, their enthusiasm and confidence for the months ahead.
As pioneers and innovators succeeding within the wider, global economy, it is the entrepreneurs from across the province that will continue to create this vital employment and who will become the driving force behind our economic renaissance as they continue to innovate, create, and empower Northern Ireland towards recovery.
It is important that we continue to focus on the vision, dedication and success of these inspiring individuals. Their spirit of enterprise will continue to inspire me, and hopefully the next generation of entrepreneurs who will define business life across Northern Ireland in the years to come.