MEA Council’s FDI apps are ‘not silver bullet for economic growth’ says councillor

Councillor Gordon Lyons.  INLT 12-681-CON
Councillor Gordon Lyons. INLT 12-681-CON

MEA Borough Council’s Economic Growth and Development Committee voted to continue to use the three foreign direct investment apps for Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne at a meeting on June 15.

The three apps, designed to promote inward investment, cost £10,000 to develop with council spending £2,500. However, due to delays in content development and design they only went live in the last three months.

With the contract with designer WAVTEC due to expire on June 30, committee members debated the future of the apps, which had received 1,704 hits as of June 4.

Continuing with a three-app option would cost £2,500 and additional bespoke enhancements would cost £600 per day, leading to an approximate total of £7500. To create a new app would cost £4600.

Councillor Stephen Nicholl said he would prefer to go forward with a single app for each area rather than three separate areas. A council officer replied that he thought council needed to get the value out of the current model, where Larne had achieved the most hits.

Councillor Mark McKinty said that there were ways to link the three apps and that the three should remain as “people need to know about specific towns within the borough.”

In response to Councillor Gordon Lyon’s question over how many people have been encouraged to invest in the area by the apps, a council officer stated: “It has only been up since January so we couldn’t quantify that they have assisted.”

Cllr Lyons replied that the apps were “no silver bullet in terms of economic growth” and that council needed to make sure they were value for money.

Councillors agreed to continue using the current three-app model while a report will be brought back to council in a couple of months.