Blueprint to boost borough manufacture

Mid and East Antrim's Manufacturing Task Force
Mid and East Antrim's Manufacturing Task Force

Mid and East Antrim’s Manufacturing Task Force has agreed a blueprint aimed at ensuring the borough has a future as a home of world-class advanced manufacturing and innovation firms.

At the body’s recent meeting, steering group members – including prominent private and public sector representatives – backed plans aimed at driving economic growth, enabling digital innovation, supporting entrepreneurship, creating jobs and boosting industry.

This includes fully capitalising on major strategic investment opportunities through the Belfast Region City Deal, the area’s bid for a Heathrow Logistics Hub, and discussions to locate a £60m Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Ballymena.

The task force is in the process of rejuvenating the local sector, which has been dealt a number of high-profile economic blows, including the closures of Michelin and JTI Gallaher in Ballymena. It previously challenged representatives from across 100 organisations to highlight the issues which needed to be addressed within the sector around productivity, skills, research and development, the supply chain and support to small to medium sized-enterprises (SMEs). Now, the task force’s steering team is focusing on its next steps amid an ever-changing local economic landscape.

Acting Chair of the Task Force, Anne Donaghy, said the role of the body was more vital than ever in delivering on a series of ambitious plans to revitalise and revolutionise the manufacturing industry in Mid and East Antrim.

She said: “We are using the expertise and skills of more than 50 representatives from manufacturing companies, industry bodies and the public sector to help map the sector’s path to renewed success.

“The levels of engagement across the different strands of the Task Force have been remarkable. Never before have so many institutions come together for the benefit of one another in this manner. It is crucial we maintain our momentum for the future.”