A HIGH-POWERED business conference involving leading economists has praised the resilience and creativity of Dungannon people in creating an economic success story.
On Thursday, Dungannon’s Ranfurly Arts Centre was the centre of the business world when a host of politicians and economic experts debated the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the local economy.
Commenting on the conference in a letter to Dungannon’s Enterprise Centre, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said: “The group you’ve gathered together is proof of the resilience and creativity of the people of your area – characteristics which I hope you won’t mind me saying are shared across Northern Ireland.
“In many ways it seems that business in the Dungannon area has bucked the economic trend of recent years and found new and creative ways to thrive. While I certainly do not underestimate the challenges that have been faced and those still to come, I feel sure that as participants today consider the question of whether Dungannon is Up for Business, the answer will be a resounding ‘Yes’!
Dungannon Enterprise Centre Director Brian MacAuley said that while there was much to be positive about, local businesses should not rest on the their laurels and more should be done by the government to support the economy.
“We are now calling on the government to show more leniency towards businesses struggling to pay tax bills”, he said. “It has been alarming to hear that many local businesses are experiencing more punitive measures around tax payments.
“In addition, the lack of broadband coverage for parts of the district is another major stumbling block for many businesses. There should be no blackspot areas. Broadband provision should be regarded as another essential utility such as water or electricity. We need complete broadband saturation in the area as it is the lifeblood of businesses in the 21st century.
“We look forward to an exciting year for Dungannon town centre with the start of the Public Realm Scheme and we ask landlords to invest in their properties and help give the town an extra boost.”
He also thanked the council for providing the ‘palatial’ facitilies at Ranfurly House.