Trade NI has called for a more focused approach to urban development along the Derry to Letterkenny economic axis.
‘Vision 2030: A Ten Year Prosperity Plan for NI’, newly-published by the business lobby, equally demands the prioritisation of the A5 and A6 roads projects and a Derry Enterprize Zone.
The proposals, from the recently formed alliance between Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI, are among key policy priorities that Trade NI believes have the potential to create up to 65,000 jobs and create a high growth economy in the North.
“We need a more focused approach to the development of the larger urban areas along the Belfast-Dublin economic and transport corridor, and along the route from Derry/Londonderry through to Letterkenny where there are significant settlements of populations,” the report’s authors state.
Continued investment in the major road projects from Derry to both Dublin and Belfast are criticial to our economic prospects, they declare.
“Immediate infrastructure priorities include the York Street Interchange, A6, A5 and Belfast and North-West Integrated Transport Hubs which must be progressed more rapidly.
“These critical projects will support improved connectivity of Belfast and Derry/Londonderry and boost their city centres.
“The infrastructure needs of rural communities desperately need to be addressed with plans developed to outline where and when infrastructure development will take place and with investment to support it,” the report maintains.
And an Enterprise Zone - model that has “very successfully boosted the economy in other cities and regions of the UK” - should be established in Derry.
“The Executive Office should lead discussions with the UK Government to create three further main Enterprise Zones in Northern Ireland by 2030.
“In addition to the existing Atlantic Link Enterprise Campus, priority areas for Enterprise Zones should include (1) Derry/Londonderry-Strabane (2) the Wrightbus and Michelin sites in Ballymena and (3) Belfast City Centre,” the report states.
“The ultimate objective should be to create one Enterprise Zone in each of the six counties of Northern Ireland.
“Each should have its own unique focus, building on the needs, characteristics and strengths of each area,” it continues.
In a joint statement, the representatives of Trade NI, Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI) and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) said: “Northern Ireland is facing a huge challenge as it struggles politically and economically with a growth forecast of around 1 per cent or below.
“This is simply not good enough and we can’t sit idly by and let events overtake us.
“We must break the cycle of limited economic growth.
“Our three organisations represent most of the businesses that make up private sector jobs in Northern Ireland.”