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Nordirland vinner "European Entrepreneurial Region of the Year 2015"

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erasmus-plus-flaggorNordirland valdes ut som Europeiska entreprenörsregionen (EER) 2015 on 25 June. Attending the awarding ceremony in Brussels, President of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) Arnold Hatch, together with Ards Borough’s Councillor Trevor Cummings, received the award which is given to Europe’s most outstanding regional strategies that foster entrepreneurship and promote innovation among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The award was presented by Ramón Luis Valcárcel, president of the EU’s Committee of the Regions. Northern Ireland, together with Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, and the Spanish Region of Valencia, were selected for their successful strategies for boosting entrepreneurship and implementing key European policies such as the Small Business Act (SBA) and the Europe 2020 Strategy for growth and jobs.

The points of strengths identified by the EER jury – made of representatives of EU institutions and business associations – include the attention to the region’s natural resources; the partnership with EER 2013 region Nord Pas de Calais to exchange best practices on social entrepreneurship; the Food Network initiative, which brings together commercial and public sector funders with renowned culinary restaurateurs to create work opportunities for socially excluded citizens; as well as the Aspire Programme, developed and run by local authorities, which addresses graduate unemployment.

“Northern Ireland’s action plan is a perfect example of decentralised growth strategy demonstrating how best to take a bottom-up approach placing municipalities at its centre,” said President Valcárcel, adding “the efforts to involve a broad range of sectors and political actors – despite competing interests – is a key factor in supporting business and innovation locally. This just goes to show how the EER can help share experiences, knowledge and challenges across Europe in our common quest to promote growth and prosperity.”

Rådmannen Trevor Cummings sa: “Northern Ireland has witnessed massive change for the better over the past ten years. We still require brave political decisions, in the collective interests of all our people, whereby our prosperity & wellbeing underpin our current stability and our emerging Programme for Government in 2016. The EER Award 2015 is crucial – it challenges those of us who support, invest in and promote local enterprise. It links private business and the social economy with EU, regional and local government. It fulfils so many of the key Programmes and Policies, from the NI Economic Strategy, to European Regional Development, Structural and Social Funds, from peace building to subsidiarity”.

Alderman Hatch added “No:rthern Ireland’s entrepreneurs will sustain our economies, whether these are film makers, artisan bakers, micro brewers, bus and coach manufacturers, or medical technology specialists. If we give them support, Northern Ireland has a bright future with jobs, growth and prosperity replacing conflict. EER gives us focus and motivation. Our work plan will be testimony to Northern Ireland’s enterprise and our untiring work ethic. We thank President Valcárcel, his officials, our three MEPs, fellow CoR members, NILGA and Invest NI.”

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