Belfast Telegraph

Enterprise scheme helps to create 600 new jobs

By Heather McGarrigle

Around 600 new jobs have been created in Belfast over the past year by business start-ups and expansions.

The posts emerged within the SME sector both by new businesses and by the growth of existing firms who participated in the Enterprise Development Programme.

The scheme is funded by Invest NI and delivered through local enterprise agencies.

In the last year the six Belfast enterprise agencies have received 604 business plans.

A total of 400 of these progressed into self-employment, with a further 200 jobs created through taking on staff.

Following recent announcements of large corporations, such as Randox, creating jobs in Northern Ireland, Alice Quinn of the North City Business Centre is glad to see recognition for the contributions of smaller enterprises.

She said: "The challenges of starting up a small business in the current economic climate should not be underestimated because it is a very vital part of the job creation mechanism that promotes a healthy economy."

Lord Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery believes the new jobs are good news for the city and is encouraged by the optimism of those starting businesses during challenging times.

He said: "Northern Ireland is a small business economy and it's important to remember that these businesses are the backbone of our economy.

"A vibrant economy is vital if we are to encourage larger international companies to set up in business here."

The Enterprise Development Programme consists of the Go For It scheme, which targets individuals thinking of starting a business, and the Growth Programme, which is aimed at expanding established companies through exports.