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Businesses urged to dive into new ‘Learn Grow Excel’ initiative

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Pictured (L-R) are Nick Coburn (NI Chamber President), Ann McGregor (NI Chamber Chief Executive) and Alan Egner (Commercial Sales & Marketing Manager, Power NI)

Over 150 members of the business community joined Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) at the Kingspan Stadium earlier today (24 November 2016) for the launch of ‘Learn Grow Excel’ – a dynamic and powerful new suite of business support initiatives led and resourced entirely by the private sector. Supported by its SME Partner Power NI, NI Chamber’s new range of services recognises the commitment from the private sector to assist local companies to scale-up and maximise business growth and export opportunities.

‘Learn Grow Excel’, was formed in response to the Department for the Economy’s ‘Export Matters’ strategy which sets out ambitious targets for growth in international markets, and has been designed to support growing companies at every stage of development and encourage more export activity in Northern Ireland. Businesses who take part in the initiative, which covers 8 elements and is partnered by Bank of Ireland UK, Danske Bank, First Trust Bank, HSBC, Ulster Bank and Ulster Carpets, will be given the opportunity to meet buyers, learn from those who have achieved export success, develop growth potential, secure export orders, expand networks, find out about scaling-up, take part in near market trade visits and also attend an export-led business conference in Belfast next year.

Speaking at the launch, Nick Coburn, President of NI Chamber, said: “The Department for the Economy’s Export Matters Action Plan sets the very challenging target of increasing the value of sales outside Northern Ireland by 33% by 2020 and 80% by 2025. “Through our current pioneering programmes such as Danske Bank Export First and Connecting for Growth in partnership with Bank of Ireland UK, NI Chamber has demonstrated that experienced exporters from the private sector can contribute to achieving these targets by sharing their experience, their expertise and their networks. “Our new Learn Grow Excel initiative, in partnership with a number of select organisations, has been designed to support growing companies at every stage of development and encourage more export activity in Northern Ireland. It demonstrates that the private sector has a key role to play in the creation of a strong, competitive, regionally balanced economy. “Whether companies are in the early stages of growth, starting out in new markets, or interested in scaling-up and expanding into additional export markets, the portfolio of programmes has something for every level of business. The only pre-requisites are the potential and commitment of businesses to grow in exports and a determination to succeed.”

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA said: “Growing Northern Ireland’s exports is a critical element in creating an increasingly outward looking, globally competitive economy. It is encouraging to learn that we were the only part of the United Kingdom to record an increase in exports in the last quarter. I recognise that growing Northern Ireland’s external sales and exports requires a joined up effort led by companies supported by Invest NI and the NI Chamber of Commerce. As well as Export Matters I am developing an International Trade Plan which will include a Trade Advisory Board and Trade Ambassadors to assist us in our efforts to open up new markets. There are many new opportunities globally and we need ambition, confidence and self-belief to grasp these.”

Alan Egner, Commercial Sales & Marketing Manager at Power NI, said: “With a history and heritage going back over 80 years Power NI has provided the energy behind many business export success stories from this part of the world. We are committed to helping the local SME sector prosper and are delighted to support the Learn Grow Excel initiative.”

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