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Rise in new businesses a sign of economic recovery

Almost 1,000 new companies were formed in Northern Ireland in the first three months of the year, new figures have revealed.

ICC Formations said that while the 987 new companies formed in the first quarter of 2010 was slightly down on the 1034 formed at the same time a year ago, the total is higher than the number formed in each quarter since then.

There were 752 new companies formed in Northern Ireland in April-June last year, 892 in July-September and 828 in October-December.

Jon Rock, head of professional services at ICC Formations, said that after a difficult year for many businesses in 2009, the rise in newly formed enterprises would be welcomed as a positive sign of recovery.

"It is exceptionally encouraging to see an increase in company formations as the number of new companies being incorporated is an important measure of economic performance, both current and future. These figures follow strong growth in the last nine months of 2009 and while the closing quarter did take an expected hit, these figures put us right back on track again," he said.

"We must now build on this and encourage and support those budding entrepreneurs. Irish people have always been very industrious and it is great to see that the recession hasn't killed entrepreneurial spirit here in the north. In fact now could just be the perfect time for people to tap into hidden talent and start that new business that they've always dreamed of."

A breakdown of the figures showed that almost half of new firms started in the early part of the year were, not surprisingly, in Co Antrim - 489 in all.

With only 18 new businesses setting up shop there, Co Fermanagh saw the fewest start-ups during the period, and accounted for only 1.8% of the total.

Some 18% of new firms were established in Co Down, Co Derry had 12%, Co Tyrone had 9.9% and Co Armagh saw 8.7% of total formations. Antrim was the only county to register an increase in start-ups when compared to the first quarter of 2009.

The number of new businesses in Fermanagh was down over 50% from the 37 set up there in January to March last year.