BUSINESSES in Northern Ireland need access to highly skilled people to help further boost the economy, new Department for Economy minister Diane Dodds said yesterday.

She was speaking at Hickson's Point at the formal launch of the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards, which have grown into the single most important business awards initiative in the north.

"We need to capitalise on our ambition and innovation by creating a pipeline of talent which will help grow a globally-competitive economy in Northern Ireland that works for everyone," she said.

Reacting to the Home Office publication of their Immigration Plan, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:  

“Retail NI has concerns that these plans do not go far enough for our local retail, wholesale and hospitality sectors. It is clear that the UK Government is not listening to the repeated concerns expressed by the business community in Northern Ireland”

Over two hundred independent retailers and small businesses who believe they been mis-sold plasma screens attended a meeting last night demanding a solution.

The meeting was organised by Retail NI, which is assisting members in finding a solution. Political representatives from the five main parties also attended the meeting at the Crowne Plaza hotel last night.

Retail NI Member Alan Collingwood whose business is impacted by this said:

Trade NI, the alliance between Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI held the first major business event, ‘Northern Ireland Economy – What Now?’ at the Long Gallery, Stormont today.

The event was held to highlight the urgent and pressing issues felt by the business community, following the restoration of the Assembly, including the need to boost the Northern Ireland economy.

Commenting on Brexit Day, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:   

“Brexit day should not be about celebration. Instead the focus should be on the hard challenges that lie ahead for Northern Ireland and its economy”

‘It is absolutely vital that the UK secures a free trade agreement with the EU over the next eleven months- a massive challenge given that the average time to conclude a trade deal is four years”

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has responded to Belfast City Council’s consultation on 'Sundays in the City' with an emphatic ‘no’ to longer Sunday trading hours. The union calls on the City Council to engage in an industrial strategy for the retail sector that involves local and national government, retailers and all key stakeholders working together.

In gathering evidence to respond to this consultation, Usdaw’s survey of retail workers found that:

Retail NI has welcomed today’s announcement that Bangor Marine Ltd. has submitted a comprehensive planning application for the development site located at Queen’s Parade and Marine Gardens in Bangor.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:   

“This is very welcome news for Bangor town centre. The redevelopment of Queen’s Parade is long overdue and this new application has the potential for much needed regeneration and the economic renewal of the town”

Commenting on last night’s Belfast City Council Planning Committee’s approval of the Tribeca application, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:

“Retail NI is ambitious for Belfast and we believe that with the right support from Government, a bold new strategy and the correct partnership model, Belfast could be in the Top Ten retail destinations in the UK and Ireland”

Land & Property Services (LPS) has today released draft valuations of all 74,000 businesses in Northern Ireland.

Known as Reval2020 – this process will result in a new non-domestic Valuation List being used to calculate business rate bills from April 2020. This process is about restoring fairness in the rating system by redistributing basically the same rating burden using more up-to-date values. A revaluation is not about collecting more money from businesses, but it is about ensuring that everyone pays their fair share.

In its New Year message, Retail NI has called for a new rebooted NI Assembly and Executive to hit the ground running with a radical plan to address the huge challenges facing the local economy.

Retail NI has also urged the UK Government to listen to the concerns of the Northern Ireland business community have with the Withdrawal Deal.

Retail NI Chief Executive, Glyn Roberts said: