Council’s Amplify business mentoring helps boost economy by £31.85m and supports 1007 local jobs

Monday 29 April 2024

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s bespoke business mentoring programmes helped grow the local economy by £31.85m and supported the creation of over one thousand jobs, an independent review has confirmed.

Pictured (L-R): Des Gartland, Invest NI, Zsolt Bohar, Green Fingers Family, Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, Andrea Bohar, Green Fingers Family and Ursula O'Loughlin, Head of Economic Development MEABC

Since 2018, the Council has been delivering tailored one-to-one growth mentoring through a suite of Amplify programmes, including Business Escalator, Business Escalator Plus and Digital Boost - all of which were part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme. 

An independent evaluation of the Amplify programmes has confirmed that 1007 jobs were supported, a total of £31.85m worth of Gross Value Added (GVA) and £18.38m worth of wages to be realised as a direct result of the initiatives over a five-year period. 

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said: “The outcomes generated from the suite of Amplify Business Growth Programmes is fantastic and is testament to the dedication and desire from the staff - taking a client-centric approach in striving to support and deliver to our local micro and small businesses. 

“I congratulate all the businesses who have engaged in the support to date, and I urge any business in the Borough to reach out and have a chat with a Business Client Manager to see how you too could be supported.”

The Amplify programmes were designed to support the local economy, business and industry following news of the closure of two large manufacturers within the Borough.

Working alongside local business leaders, Council focused on the need to help grow Mid and East Antrim’s indigenous micro and small businesses as the bedrock to achieving sustainable prosperity.

Amplify: The Integrated Economic Development Strategy for Mid and East Antrim 2018-2030, set out the vision for future, sustainable growth throughout the area, with clear priorities and targets outlined.

Achieving funding from European Regional Development fund and Invest Northern Ireland, Council took a very hands-on role with local businesses in Mid and East Antrim. 

Council’s Business Client Managers engaged with more than 800 businesses, understanding their needs and identifying opportunities for suitable support through Council’s Amplify growth programmes or by creating connections with local and regional stakeholders who could deliver relevant support to augment their growth.

Business Client Managers have been a ‘critical friend’ on their journey to growth and this approach has generated 414 referrals to stakeholder organisations, which delivered approximately £1,105,500 worth of additional support for businesses in Mid and East Antrim.   

Council’s Business Client Managers’ close relationships with businesses and their progression on the Amplify programmes enabled them to identify those with growth potential who could progress through to Invest NI support.

Des Gartland, Invest NI’s North Eastern Regional Manager said: “Our partnership approach with Council through Amplify continues to have a transformative impact on businesses across the Mid & East Antrim region, helping them to create jobs, increase exports and drive their productivity.

“It’s great to see so many of these businesses referred from Council which has seamlessly connected local companies with our vital assistance which is amplifying their potential and fuelling their growth further.”

Ursula O’Loughlin, Head of Economic Growth at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, said: “I am extremely proud to share the outcomes of Council’s business support interventions delivered since 2018. The outcomes endorse Council’s commitment to growing our indigenous business base to strengthen prosperity of the region and our staff and companies have excelled in delivering the significant outcomes that have been achieved.”


Green Fingers Family, based in Larne, teamed up with Council’s Business Client Manager, Laura McCourt in 2020.

Initially engaged in sales mentoring under Business Escalator Plus and then progressing to assistance under Digital Boost and on to Invest NI’s radar via Laura, the local company is a prime example of how a business can graduate through Council’s supports and through close engagement with a Business Client Manager can access new opportunities.

The business is now exporting to the Republic of Ireland, have increased their product range and have secured new premises to quadruple their manufacturing facility size. Green Fingers Family has also secured a place on Invest NI’s Ambition to Grow Supporting Women Programme. 

Zsolt and Andrea Bohar, owners of Green Fingers Family explain how the Amplify business support programmes have assisted their business: "Participating in the Amplify programmes has been a game-changer for our food business. The support and resources provided have propelled our growth in ways we couldn't have imagined. The Amplify programmes have been instrumental in helping us navigate challenges and capitalise on opportunities. As a result, our business has flourished, reaching new markets and achieving great success. We're grateful for the invaluable assistance Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has provided, paving the way for our continued expansion and innovation in the food industry."

The Business Escalator, Business Escalator Plus and Digital Boost Programmes were part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) programme.

To find out further information on the support available to grow your business contact