Manufacturing Task Force sets out proposals

Mark McClure, Rose Mary Stalker, Anne Donaghy and Alderman Gregg McKeen (Chair of Council's Economic Growth and Tourism Committee).
Mark McClure, Rose Mary Stalker, Anne Donaghy and Alderman Gregg McKeen (Chair of Council's Economic Growth and Tourism Committee).

Mid and East Antrim’s Manufacturing Taskforce’s new steering group met this week as part of plans to re-invigorate manufacturing in the borough.

The Manufacturing Taskforce was formed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in the wake of the economic loss of both Michelin, JTI-Gallagher and others in recent years.

At the inaugural meeting of the Taskforce’s Steering Group, the portfolio of recommendations proposed at the meeting were unanimously supported and steering group members agreed to pursue the ideas and strategies put forward to date.

There were some short-term recommendations, such as the setting up of a HR managers’ forum and a local Buyers and Suppliers network that the teams can start working on now.

Some of the longer-term recommendations are being integrated into the council’s Greater Belfast Region City Deal proposals, such as the work being carried out on the St Patrick’s Barracks regeneration site in Ballymena.

Rose Mary Stalker, Chair of the Manufacturing Taskforce, said: “The manufacturing sector lies at the heart of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and we are determined to make sure it achieves its full potential.

“That is why the Manufacturing Taskforce was formed and the meeting of the steering group was an important step on that journey.”

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Lindsay Millar, said: “I am confident that the Manufacturing Taskforce will ensure a contribution not just to the local economy, but also to the wider economy across Northern Ireland.”

Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, added: “It is vital that we use the expertise and skills of the companies and talent in this area to help deliver change and further economic growth.”

Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI, said: “The most important thing is that the Manufacturing Taskforce hasn’t sat around and waited for things to happen.

“Those involved are getting things done now, with actions for the short term, medium term, as well as having ambitious plans for the long term.

“This isn’t about navel-gazing or looking for what is best practice, hoping that ideas are just going to spring out. The Manufacturing Taskforce are taking their collective energy and taking action now. That’s the most impressive thing.”