North West businesses are being urged by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to grasp the business opportunities that will come with DARD relocating to the area.
The Agriculture Minister was joined by the deputy First Minister on Wednesday to view demolition work at the former Shackleton military site and to meet with local traders and community representatives.
The Minister said that relocating DARD headquarters to Ballykelly offers huge economic opportunities for businesses in both the town and the wider North West.
She added: “Hundreds of civil servants will be coming to work, shop, eat and enjoy leisure pursuits here whilst, at the same time, helping to create many more additional service and supply jobs and secure existing employment. The building work, which we plan to start next year, will also bring a welcome boost to the local construction industry, local businesses and the rural economy.
“I have been encouraged by the latest figures which show that more than 1,500 civil servants have expressed an interest in working for DARD at Ballykelly. These statistics clearly demonstrate the very real appetite there is across the civil service for the Executive’s policy on relocation.
“We are now on target for the site clearance works to be completed by the end of April, when a planning application will be submitted for approval. I am hopeful the construction work will begin during 2016 and that staff, many from the local community, will be sitting at their new desks by the end of 2017.”
The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “I welcome this £20million investment which will provide a significant economic injection to the North West. This relocation will be a massive boost for residents, businesses, employees and visitors.
“The DARD headquarters will be a catalyst for change and regeneration stimulating much needed job opportunities not just in Ballykelly but across the North West. Moving an entire government department signals our intention to decentralise jobs and I commend Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill for her efforts in getting the development to this stage.”