Posted on Thursday 28 May 2015 by Ulster Business

Private sector in economic driving seat

Pictured at the First Trust Bank Business Growth Fund Launch Event held in Titanic Belfast is Paul McKeever, Managing Director at McKeevers Chemists,  Richard Ennis, Director of Business & Corporate Banking at First Trust Bank and Gareth Hetherington, Associate Director at the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre

Future growth for the Northern Ireland economy relies entirely on the shoulder of the private sector over the next few years, according to the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC).

Its spring outlook said swingeing government spending cuts, an end to falling prices and rising interest rates will dampen economic growth here but that will be partially mitigated by a strengthening private sector.

It expected 12,400 new jobs to be created over the next four years – a big fall from the 27,000 jobs created between 2012 and 2014.

The number is made up of 8,400 net job losses in the public sector but balanced by 21,000 net new jobs in the private sector, a reflection of the large number of new jobs created over the last year by Invest NI.

 “Given the surprising Conservative party victory in the general election, the key trajectory for government spending remains on a downward trend,” Gareth Hetherington, Associate Director of the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC) said. “Against this backdrop the responsibility for economic growth rests entirely with the private sector and encouragingly some businesses are rising to that challenge.”

That’s particularly true in the manufacturing sector which has outpaced growth in the UK.

“Our analysis suggests that since 2012 local manufacturers have created 4,700 more jobs than would have occurred if the sector had grown at average UK rates.  Replicating that success across other areas of our private sector is essential if economic growth is to be maintained.”

Mr Hetherington was speaking at the launch of a new £50m Business Growth Fund by First Trust Bank. It will be available to both new and existing customers for borrowings over £150k.

Richard Ennis, Director of Business & Corporate Banking at First Trust Bank said the fund is a response to customer demand.

“The good news is that we are seeing a return in confidence among our customers, many of whom are now in a position where they want to grow. It is for this very reason that we have brought forward a new £50 million Business Growth Fund to support those businesses who wish to borrow in excess of £150,000 to expand and invest for the future.

“Building on the success of our two previous Business Support Funds and specialist Agri-Food Fund we have now committed over £170m in funding since 2012. This latest fund recognises that we have entered into a new phase of business confidence and growth and is a clear demonstration of our commitment to help our customers achieve their potential.” 

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