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Showcasing Mid and East Antrim to the world’s largest investors


Alderman Gregg McKeen and Anne Donaghy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Alderman Gregg McKeen and Anne Donaghy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Alderman Gregg McKeen and Anne Donaghy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

A Mid and East Antrim Borough Council delegation is travelling to MIPIM aiming to secure investment, grow the economy, create jobs and showcase development opportunities to up to 30,000 international entrepreneurs.

Over the four-day conference, the group will present a range of real estate investment and development sites from across the borough to property investors, developers and occupiers, including locations ideal for investment in innovation, regeneration and tourism.

Council’s participation at MIPIM forms part of our economic fightback plan to boost the area’s GVA (gross value added) and secure significant inward investment, as we seek to drive economic growth.

The timing of the event coincides with a number of potentially game-changing economic growth opportunities in Mid and East Antrim, including the borough’s bid for one of four Heathrow Expansion Logistics Hubs within the UK – a venture which has the potential to deliver an economic boost locally of £5bn and create 5,000 jobs within the Borough and wider Northern Ireland plc.

Mid and East Antrim’s participation in the Belfast Region City Deal has resulted in the Council securing £80m, to be injected into a number of major schemes across the Borough, as part of the overall drive to deliver a decade of inclusive economic growth, create up to 20,000 new and better jobs, and increase GVA by £470m a year.

The council’s City Deal projects include the transformation of the former St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena with a new innovation hub at its centre. The other City Deal projects are The Gobbins, a major tourism attraction within the area which draws thousands of overseas visitors each year – and the regeneration of Carrickfergus, which is one of Northern Ireland’s oldest and most historically significant towns, with a rich heritage offering.

MIPIM provides council with the ideal platform to maximise the opportunities from these substantial projects, and pitch Mid and East Antrim and the Belfast Region as an ideal place to invest, work and visit.

Anne Donaghy, chief executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said: “I am

delighted that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council will be showcasing our investment opportunities and key sites at the world’s largest property conference.

“MIPIM highlights the importance of private and public sector collaboration in attracting investment and building sustainable economic growth in Northern Ireland.

“These partnerships are crucial within our economic fightback plan in Mid and East Antrim and are central to our promotion of the area and the investment opportunities available.

“Our Manufacturing Task Force has demonstrated locally how important those relationships are if we are to grow our economy and provide the conditions necessary for our businesses to develop and prosper.

“We are using MIPIM to sell all the attributes of the Mid and East Antrim area and Northern Ireland plc.

“Our tourism potential is incredible, with our borough as the starting point on the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route, providing the backdrop to the most successful television series of all time, Game of Thrones.

“Logistically, we are ideally positioned, with impressive infrastructure and links to two airports on our doorstep as well as the ports of Larne and Belfast. We are home to some of Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing firms, which are operating globally.

“These include Caterpillar (NI) Ltd, Europe’s largest diesel generating set manufacturer; Ryobi, employing almost 9,000 staff worldwide, with a strong export focus and global customer base; and IPC Mouldings, whose components are visible in many of today’s flights across the world.

“We have all the ingredients of an attractive investment proposition and we are completely focused on creating a vibrant business culture, proactively working to build our strengths in manufacturing and agri-food, whilst supporting and promoting the growth of the tourism, digital, financial and business services sectors.

“Last year we built a number of positive relationships at MIPIM and these led to a number of key investors meetings which are progressing positively. This year we will be bringing an even more dynamic portfolio of investment sites, with the aim of selling Mid and East Antrim as a destination of choice for major developers.”

The locations highlighted at MIPIM include significant industrial sites: Woodside Road Industrial Estate and Silverwood Business Park (formerly a Michelin Factory) and a range of key industrial opportunities at Kilroot Business Park and across the South West Carrickfergus area.

Tourism presents an exciting opportunity for development in the area, with investment opportunities including the former Drumnagreagh Hotel site and the Game of Thrones film location at Magheramorne Quarry.

The Port of Larne presents a logistics and manufacturing opportunity for the whole of Northern Ireland. Perfectly placed on the eastern seaboard it is the shortest and fastest connection to the UK mainland.

Finally we have exciting plans to transform the former St Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena into a new science park.

An Integrated Industrial Inspiration and Innovation Campus, or ‘i4C’, will boast a range of high quality accommodation and incubator space with the addition of manufacturing and lab based accommodation and a super maker space with flexible convening space. The mixed use innovation and regeneration opportunity will also include housing, leisure, tourism and business development opportunities.

Ms Donaghy said: “The Mid and East Antrim economy has experienced a number of economic shocks in the last few years with the closures of JTI Gallaher and Michelin, as well as, most recently, Wrightbus, the world-renowned coachbuilder entering into administration.

“These contributed to the loss of around 3,000 well-paid jobs in the local economy, representing a 13% loss in manufacturing GVA in Mid and East Antrim.

“As chief executive, I’m proud of how our council is driving the area’s economic fightback plan. Our politicians, businesses and partners are resilient and have grasped every opportunity to turn this around, create jobs, grow our economy and place our borough on the map as an area of manufacturing excellence.”

Councillor Gregg McKeen, chairman of the council’s Borough Growth Committee, said Mid and East Antrim welcomed the opportunity to join with its five other partner councils to highlight the opportunities and benefits that the City Deal will bring for Mid and East Antrim and the wider Belfast region.

He said: “Local government and its role in driving economic growth and securing investment has never been more important. With some of the most enviable assets in terms of companies, people and physical resources, we can offer a number of large-scale investment opportunities.

“I look forward to welcoming developers and investors from around the world to engage in discussions around investing in the Borough and sharing in our ambitious growth plans.”