Time for a City Deal for north west region, says Chamber chief
THE north west urgently requires a City Deal to stimulate connectivity and growth, the president of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce told guests at the organisation's annual lunch in the Everglades Hotel.
Brian McGrath told more than 200 guests: “The absence of a functioning Assembly at Stormont coupled with the possibility of a no deal Brexit is seriously impacting on business and civic society across the north west city region.
“Our members are telling us that they want to see greater investment in the north west and a City Deal.
“Such a deal must work for the whole of the north west city region. One that recognises that we operate across a wide region and have members that both live, work and travel on both sides of the border. It must recognise our unique location and our interwoven lives.
“We will continue to work closely with Derry City and Strabane District Council and other partners to make that vision a reality.
As well as Mr McGrath, the audience also heard from the vice-president and managing director of Allstate in Northern Ireland John Healy, who is also this year's president of the NI Chamber this year.
He said: “Today we send a powerful message to our members that both Chambers are working together, fighting on their behalf and representing their business needs.
“The north west region is a place that Allstate recognises as one that has talent, ability and drive in abundance, which is why we have invested in creating jobs and employment in Derry and Strabane.
“I am acutely aware of the pressures that are being faced across the region and the direct impact that these are having upon businesses here. However, despite the pressures, the north west is a place to do business and we are fully supportive of the bid for a City Deal that would undoubtedly create more opportunities.”
Stephen Comer, business acquisitions manager at lunch sponsors First Trust Bank, said: “The city has undergone a big transformation in recent years, but we still have a lot of work to do.
“It is heartening to see the Chamber look ahead to a City Deal, despite the difficulties posed by Brexit. It is this determination and drive that will make the region's economy grow and we need that positive outlook in the challenging weeks that lie ahead.
“First Trust is fully behind a City Deal bid for the region because we understand the transformative effect it could have on the city and the businesses who operate here.”