Belfast Telegraph

Entrepreneurial 'deficit' sparks new council drive to boost Belfast business

By John Mulgrew

Belfast City Council says it has created more than 300 jobs in the last year through a number of business boosting schemes.

But the level of entrepreneurship falls well behind the Northern Ireland average, with the district coming in second last place among the 11 councils here.

The council's growth and regeneration committee is to discuss business expansion and start-up creation later tonight.

"Belfast continues to lag behind the NI average (6.3%) for early-stage entrepreneurial activity with a total entrepreneurial activity (TEA) rate of 4.4%," council committee documents say.

The TEA measures the percentage of people of a working age who are about to start a business, and those who have already started one.

In a bid to boost and highlight Belfast as a place to do business, the council is launching a new marketing campaign.

That will include the banner 'Belfast: City For Business', which will be launched this month.

Council documents say "work is being undertaken by the council and its partners to address the deficit around business start-up rates and to support indigenous companies to become more competitive and improve their productivity... to address these challenges, council officers have been working in partnership with Invest NI and other local economic development stakeholders to design and develop a range of programmes and initiatives to increase the levels of entrepreneurial activity, self-employment and business start-up across the city".

"There is a further suite of initiatives designed to support small businesses to scale up and grow, increasing employment opportunities and improving their competitiveness."

The council says 313 jobs have been created through a number of its schemes in the last financial year.

That includes 190 through the business start-up Go For It programme, along with 85 through 'business space' the Innovation Factory.

The figures show that the self-employment rate in Belfast is currently 6%. That's half of the average figure here.

The documents say the city is too "reliant on the public sector", which accounts for around one-third of all employment.

"There is a need to rebalance the economy by creating more private sector businesses and employment," they add.

Belfast Telegraph

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