Minister Perry turns the sod at the new Technology Enterprise Centre, Carrick on Shannon.

John Perry TD, Minister for Small Business at a turning of the sod event for a new Technology Enterprise Centre, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim, as part of the Cross Border Innovation & Enterprise Programme. Innovation & Enterprise Programme will support creation of technology-oriented businesses in the Irish Central Border Area Network region – Perry

Addition of new Technology Centre at Leitrim Technology Enterprise Centre will provide accommodation for 14 new businesses, resulting in the creation of 70 new jobs

Innovation & Enterprise Programme will provide free mentoring to those looking to develop a business idea and will play an important part in the development of small, local businesses

Friday 23rd November 2012

Distinguished Guests, Councillors, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to be here today at the Leitrim Technology Enterprise Centre as part of the turning of the sod on this new two storey 7,500 square feet building, which will provide state of the art accommodation for 14 new businesses resulting in the creation of 70 new jobs when completed. The new building is part of cross-border enterprise project – the Innovation & Enterprise Programme – which is led by Omagh District Council and partnered by Leitrim County Enterprise Fund, Leitrim County Enterprise Board, and Leitrim County Council and Omagh Enterprise Company.

The Innovation & Enterprise Programme is part-funded under the EU Interreg Programme and will play an important part in the development of small, local businesses in this region. The aim of this cross border programme is to support the creation and development of innovative technology-oriented businesses in the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) region. The programme also provides business advisory services, including specialist consultancy, mentoring, seminars and cross border network events. These activities help bring businesses together and establish new contacts generating in business in the cross border region.

I wish to congratulate the ICBAN Network, Omagh District Council and the representative bodies from Leitrim for their co-operative efforts, which have enabled this funding to be secured. I would also like to pay tribute to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland, together with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Dublin, both of whom co-funded this initiative, with the EU. I would also like to thank the Special EU Programmes Body, SEUPB, for their continuing work in delivering the programme.

It is important that we have projects like these that are relevant to business needs and are accessible and tailored to specific regions. The Innovation & Enterprise Programme will provide free mentoring to those looking to develop a business idea. Helping to develop existing small businesses, and get start-up companies off the ground, will play a key role in our economic recovery.

I warmly welcome this development, as I believe that a project such as this will create greater business links and the development of networks which will benefit the region.

I would also like to say a few words about the wider context of this initiative. It makes sense that we work together on this island to optimise the use of the economic resources that are at our disposal, transforming North/South economic collaboration into a source of mutual competitive advantage. This particularly applies to the key economic area of job creation.

Programmes like the INTERREG Programme provide a valuable source of funding to local project promoters, particularly in times of economic downturn. These projects produce jobs and services at a local level and lead to the increased prosperity and economic development of the regions.

The INTERREG Programme has delivered many real benefits on the ground for the people of Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland. Since 1991 they have helped to contribute to greater prosperity and quality of life in this region.

In these challenging times, INTERREG continues to provide opportunities and benefits for the people here. The current INTERREG programme, INTERREG 4A, aims to support strategic cross-border co-operation for a more prosperous and sustainable region. It will inject €256m of funding into projects, which is very significant. Now, more than ever, it is vital that the opportunities provided by the programme are sought and seized. We are very grateful to the EU, which continues to provide the bulk of the funding required, and I am very pleased that the indications are that a new round of INTERREG funding may be put in place for the following period, up to 2020. My Government are very supportive of the initiative continuing so that we can continue to develop projects such as the one being launched here today.

The INTERREG 4A programme includes strategic projects involving Tourism, Enterprise and Public Sector Collaboration. To date a large range of projects have already been approved for funding, right across the border region. Indeed, I recently addressed the launch of the Border Uplands Project at the Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh. The Interreg Tourism project has the potential to significantly change the tourism profile of this region, and I was very happy to endorse the project and the objectives of the project promoters. Each individual Interreg project, large or small, which facilitates such cross-border interaction, contributes to the goal of mutual understanding. It is in this context that I am attending here today to turn the sod on another Interreg project that has the potential to reach out to business communities on both sides of the border. By targeting innovative, high-growth technology businesses and companies with export potential, I believe that the proposed development here in Carrick will stimulate employment and wealth creation in the region.

Finally, I am also glad to see such a wide spread of representatives from a range of interested bodies in the region, here today to mark the launch of this event. The success of these initiatives is greatly enhanced by close cooperation between all relevant parties.

I wish this project the very best and would like to say thank you in particular to Hilary McPartland, the project’s Innovation Officer, for inviting me here today.