The twin benefits of a transformative City Deal, combined with its strategic location on the Dublin-Belfast corridor, means Newry, Mourne and Down District could be poised for “future decades of global economic growth”.
That was the key message delivered at a conference in Newcastle which heard that the impressive growth posted in the council area since 2002 has provided the “foundations which will form the basis for a prosperous future for all”.
'Empowering NMD' revealed how the Belfast Region City Deal will supercharge innovation and develop and fine tune the skills base across Newry, Mourne and Down, acting as a catalyst for sustained economic growth and helping create thousands of new and better jobs.
The event in the Slieve Donard Hotel also discussed how NMD will be able to leverage international recognition and investment through its key role as secretariate of the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor (DBEC).
The conference - which heard from Dundrum-born Patrick Kielty and finance minister Conor Murphy among others - was designed to communicate and highlight the council’s vision for the next 20 years.
Council chair Michael Savage said: “We're privileged to have been gifted a district primed for success, and the leaders who advocated for Newry to be designated a city 20 years ago paved the way for these far-reaching initiatives and put us in a position to take advantage of global opportunities.
“It is incumbent on all of us to make every effort to ensure these once-in-a-lifetime initiatives to allow this district to reach its full potential, to flourish and further its attraction as a place to live, work and visit.
“Funding levers such as the Belfast Region City Deal will be used to develop the skills base across Newry, Mourne and Down to meet the needs of industry. They will help to attract R&D funding to keep our companies at the cutting edge; they will develop our infrastructure at critical junctures to smooth the movement of people, goods and tourists; and they will help us to open up the natural beauty of this region to an eager and growing tourist economy.
He added: “Most critically, we must make the most of our strategic position midway between Belfast and Dublin, which allows us to take advantage of the economic might of the collective regions along the corridor as well the unique position the region finds itself in in the wake of Brexit.
“Through collaboration between the private, public and third sectors, we can ensure an incredibly exciting future for all and cement an even more prosperous future for the next generation.”