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South Down MP, Chris Hazzard has told InvestNI that they must get serious about delivering economic opportunities for the people of South Down and the South Down representative said there are more than 70 acres of InvestNI land yet to be utilised in Newry and Downpatrick.

Mr Hazzard had a meeting with with senior InvestNI officials where they discussed job creation and the urgent need for InvestNI to promote indigenous small businesses in light of the unique opportunities now available due to the Protocol.

Chris Hazzard MP has called on InvestNI to ensure land, such as the vacant site on the Killough Road in Downpatrick, is fully utilised in order to create local employment in South Down
Chris Hazzard MP has called on InvestNI to ensure land, such as the vacant site on the Killough Road in Downpatrick, is fully utilised in order to create local employment in South Down

The MP said “InvestNI’s job creation record in South Down is nowhere near good enough. Last year just 10 jobs were created locally compared to 1200 jobs in Belfast. So I made it clear to InvestNI that they need to get serious about delivering investment and jobs in South Down 

“While Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) offers lucrative opportunities for many parts of Ireland, South Down will benefit more from nurturing our local indigenous businesses to fulfil their potential and ultimately create more, better jobs in our local community.  

Mr Hazzard pointed out that many small enterprises in South Down have considerable capacity for growth giving the example of companies like Finnebrogue, First Derivatives, and the STATSports Group.

“It is this greater focus on our local entrepreneurs and small flourishing businesses that will develop South Down into a regional hub for enterprise and investment, and help create a much more diverse and sustainable local economy." said the MP

Mr Hazzard  added “I was encouraged to hear InvestNI recognise that a more proactive engagement with small indigenous businesses in South Down is required, and that they are looking to engage with myself and Newry, Mourne & Down Council in this endeavour as soon as possible.  

“Sinn Féin are focused on creating employment opportunities for local people, and we discussed the importance of support from InvestNI for small start-up businesses and the expansion of local projects throughout South Down in order to stimulate opportunities. 

“Many of our local businesses across South Down are also ideally situated to take advantage of the new trading realities created by the Irish Protocol in response to Brexit. So it is vital that InvestNI urgently engage with our business to ensure they have the appropriate advice, support and investment to realise these unique opportunities. 

Speaking about InvestNI land still to be utilised Mr Hazzard concluded “I also made it clear that InvestNI must work with our local Council and other public bodies to ensure we can help offer local enterprise the opportunity to grow and flourish in our local community - indeed the vacant sites have become symbolic of InvestNI’s failure in South Down in recent decades. This must change.” 

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