LEDCOM, one of Northern Ireland’s top business enterprise centres helped to create 235 jobs in new start-up companies this year with a financial boost of £5m to the economy.
LEDCOM (Local Economic Development Company) also provided opportunities to more than 1,000 people with a range of skills development programmes.
The figures were revealed at the social enterprise’s AGM as it unveiled its new chair, Dr Norman Apsley, former CEO of Catalyst Inc and renowned expert in the Knowledge Economy.
The Directors’ Report highlighted LEDCOM’s social and economic impact by injecting almost £350,000 into the wider social economy and delivering support to 157 business and social enterprise start-ups.
CEO Ken Nelson described this year’s figures as excellent, showing that LEDCOM was continuing its key role in supporting economic development across Antrim and Newtownabbey and Mid and East Antrim areas working in partnership with local councils and other bodies.
Speaking at LEDCOM’s Willowbank Business Park site in Larne, Mr Nelson welcomed the appointment of Dr Apsley, who is taking over from Henry Fletcher who served with distinction in the post for six years.
He said: “Dr Apsley has a long and distinguished career in business, including 18 years as CEO of Catalyst Inc, formerly the Northern Ireland Science Park. He is dedicated to the promotion of innovation and enterprise and we look forward to his advice and influence. I would also like to pay tribute to our outgoing chair Henry Fletcher who has been a great servant to LEDCOM and the business life of this area for many years.”
Dr Apsley said he looked forward to the challenge of working with one of Northern Ireland’s longest established enterprise agencies: “LEDCOM’s record of economic development in Northern Ireland over more than 33 years is second to none. It has continually adapted to changing circumstances and has been at the forefront of enterprise, innovation and business support. I hope that my experience will help to add value to its ongoing work.”
LEDCOM, in association with Intertrade Ireland and Enterprise NI, delivered the Co-Innovate Programme designed to support SMEs and micro-businesses in Northern Ireland and the Border Region develop and improve their innovation capabilities and boost cross border trade.
It also provided mentoring and business support for small businesses by delivering a range of enterprise initiatives for local councils and Enterprise NI including the Northern Ireland Business Start Programme; Exploring Enterprise 4, the ASK/Amplify Programme and the Kickstart Programme.
With EU Peace IV funding through local councils LEDCOM developed and delivered a range of community and skills development initiatives supporting community groups, young people and women.
The company currently has 54 tenant businesses and 350 employment and training places at its business parks and continues to offer managed workspace with wrap round support to encourage new businesses to develop and grow.