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This conference assessed the next steps for taking forward the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD).
Delegates examined key issues and challenges for implementing the Deal’s projects and overarching aims, including priorities for skills development and engagement with the UK Government on investment priorities.
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Andrew Kerr, Chief Executive, The City of Edinburgh Council; and Dónal Durkan, Executive Director, Strategy, Invest NI.
The conference brought together key stakeholders to discuss the progress of the BRCD so far, the way forward for further development within Belfast and the wider city region, and what more is needed in making the deal work in practice.
It was also an opportunity to assess how the BRCD can act as a driver in addressing key societal issues within the region, such as infrastructure development, tackling high levels of economic inactivity and unemployment, and boosting skills development.
Further sessions examined potential benefits with the adoption of the new Windsor Framework, what this means for further investment in the region, and implications for implementation and development of the BRCD.
The discussion took place in the context of:
- the UK Government Committee for Northern Ireland Affairs report, Investment in Northern Ireland
- the new Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland
- the Department for the Economy’s 10X Economy - an economic vision for a decade of innovation
Sessions in the agenda discussed:
- progress: assessing the delivery of the Deal’s projects to date - identifying areas of best practice and incorporating these into future delivery - priority areas for further funding
- the UK Government’s priorities: improving engagement with local stakeholders - priorities for longer-term strategic investment
- finance: funding priorities and attracting inward investment - targeting support to accelerate economic growth in the region - strategies for inclusive and sustainable growth
- spreading the benefits: how dividends from the BRCD can produce a positive impact more widely and equitably amongst regional partners - developing regional infrastructure and connectivity
- skills and employability: next steps for improvement and development - addressing key skills shortages - incorporating the work of the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland into the BRCD’s progress
- lessons from other jurisdictions: taking forward lessons and successful approaches from established city deals - best practice in leveraging investment and cooperation
- Windsor Framework: what the new agreement means for delivery of the BRCD - capitalising on potential benefits - addressing outstanding issues - assessing impact on attracting investment
- key growth sectors: strengthening the region’s offer in sectors such as creative industries, advanced manufacturing and digital
- policy priorities: for both central government and the Legislative Assembly to maintain progress - implementation - challenges for funding and delivery in the absence of a functioning executive
The conference was an opportunity for the stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from DAERA; Department for Communities; Department for Infrastructure; Department for the Economy; Northern Ireland Assembly; NIAO; Defra; DBT; DLUHC; DfT; Department of Education, ROI; and the Department of Finance, ROI.