Rural investment not an option, but priority

Unfortunately, the recession has not passed by rural areas, nor has it avoided the Loughshore. We all know of family and friends who have been forced to emigrate due to many people facing unemployment. Local businesses and services are working tirelessly to ensure that they not only survive, but continue to be at the heart of our communities helping to support and make sure rural life thrives.

Ardboe is a great example of where local people have worked hard at providing for the community. When thinking about the local amenities, it has to be highlighted that the local shops and businesses are credit to the area, their ability to provide top class customer service and variety of product would leave many towns and cities learning from them. Despite their successes, times are difficult for everyone, and it’s critical to ensure investment and infrastructure are directed to the Loughshore. Appropriate support needs to be provided in order for local businesses to not only be sustained, but to flourish.

The Executive Departments must work together on a cross cutting strategy to ensure rural communities are not left behind when policy projects are being developed. The six counties are predominantly rural, and the lifeblood of the economy comes from within the rural community.

The nature of business around the Loughshore is extremely diverse, and this diversity is both a strength and a challenge. In a locality that leads the way in both dairy and agricultural farming, is at the heart of the fishing community, and has internationally recognised businesses providing products and services across globe, one size fits all investment and support simply is not appropriate.