By Patricia Devlin
BUSINESSES in Cookstown, Dungannon and Magherafelt will have a chance to meet major public sector buyers from across Ireland at a special procurement conference to be held this week.
An estimated £16 billion worth of public business will be available at the ‘Meet the Buyer’ event set to be held in the Glenavon House Hotel on Thursday. September 27th.
So far over 20 major agencies, including the Strategic Investment Board, which will oversee the Desertcreat Joint Public Services College, have been confirmed to attend. The Irish University Group, Northern Ireland Electricity, County Council Authorities, Dublin City Council and the Irish Prison Service will also be in attendance.
Not only will the event give local businesses a chance to network with each other, but will also allow them to meet major public sector companies who are after everything from technology, cleaning services, textiles, office equipment to education, training. catering, HR and marketing services.
The event is being run by InterTrade Ireland in partnership with Invest Northern Ireland, Inter-Trade Ireland the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD), National Procurement Service and the Strategic Investment Board.
Those wishing to attend are asked to register their interest online at www.intertradeireland.com/meet-the-buyer where an itinerary of the day is available. There is also a run down of the buyer list who will be in attendance on the day, and a run down of the services and products previously procured.
The event will also give business people the chance to find out about the latest procurement news and trends and find out about funding opportunities and supports available from the main development agencies across the island.
Ciaran Higgins, manager of Cookstown Enterprise Centre said the event could boost the procurement of services and goods on a local scale.
He said: “I am delighted that the Intertrade Ireland Meet the Buyer event is being held in Cookstown. The event will provide a unique opportunity for local businesses to meet with public sector buyers and business support agencies from throughout the North and South of Ireland.
“I would hope that the event will play an important role in encouraging the procurement of goods and services on a more local basis, helping local businesses to grow and develop and I would encourage businesses to avail of these opportunities by registering to attend the event.”
President of Cookstown Chamber of Commerce Alan Hogshaw also encouraged local business people to attend, particularly with the upcoming Desertcreat project.
He said: “The Desertcreat project will be the biggest thing that will happen the Cookstown district over the next few years. This is a great venue to go to and make sure your company is in with a shout of getting part of the contract.”
Cookstown councillor Trevor Wilson, urged local businesses to attend.
“In Northern Ireland public procurement is estimated to account for up to £3 billion of annual spending in central and local government and I believe that public procurement should be tailored specifically towards supporting opportunities for local Micro small and medium enterprises as well as the social economy,” he said.
“All this comes at a time when the local rate of unemployment and the rate of youth unemployment had increased with both now above the UK average, and with the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits now standing at more than 63,000.”
“Also last week the Federation of Small Businesses indicated that 9 out of 10 unemployed people finding jobs do so through starting up their own small business or going to work in one.
Councillor Wilson added: “It is essential that as many firms as possible take advantage of the business generated by public procurement and the Cookstown Conference will provide a tremendous opportunity to engage with public procurement buyers from both sides of the border and also seize the opportunity to provide feedback as to how public procurement processes could be modified and made more user-friendly.
“With the building of the new PSNI college due to start soon this conference provides an excellent opportunity for local businesses to learn how best to take advantage of future business opportunities.”