SoS Engages With Belfast Business Leaders

Brexit and the return to devolution were high on the agenda on Monday as returning Secretary of State Julian Smith met with over 20 of Belfast's business leaders.

Belfast Chamber welcomed the Secretary back into his role at the roundtable meeting, which also touched on matters such as skills, infrastructure and the importance of the city to the whole region's economy.

Commenting after, Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said the organisation implored Mr Smith to end the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and push for a return to powersharing at Stormont.

Mr Hamilton said: "Business has suffered from so much uncertainty and a lack of decision making locally have had upon the economy and our ability to grow. We implore our local political parties to restore the Assembly and Executive without delay and we reinserted to Mr Smith our desire for a business-friendly Brexit which permits local businesses to trade with the EU without a hard border and the rest of the UK unencumbered."

Belfast Chamber also impressed upon the Secretary of State the need for a continued focus on maintaining the flow of skilled workers through education, as well as the continued development of Northern Ireland's infrastructures.

"These key enablers of growth need ongoing attention," Mr Hamilton continued.

"As well as being our biggest city. Belfast is the driver of Northern Ireland's economy. Investment and support for the city isn't about benefitting people in Belfast alone. It helps people all across our region. Belfast Chamber reiterated to the Secretary of State that Belfast's recent success has not happened by accident. It has required consistent investment and concerted action on the part of government and the business community in the city over many years. That relentless focus on growing a capital city of scale needs to be maintained. Now is the time to keep our foot on the pedal towards an even more successful Belfast where greater numbers of people want to live, work, study and visit and where companies choose to invest and we delivered that message loudly and clearly to the Secretary of State."

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