Larne businesses call for better broadband

Leigh Hannah of Growing Smiles is pictured at LEDCOM's Willowbank Business Park in Larne with DETI Minister Jonathan Bell and Cllr Billy Ashe, Mayor of Mid East Antrim.  INLT 26-677-CON
Leigh Hannah of Growing Smiles is pictured at LEDCOM's Willowbank Business Park in Larne with DETI Minister Jonathan Bell and Cllr Billy Ashe, Mayor of Mid East Antrim. INLT 26-677-CON
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Many local companies are struggling to compete due to poor broadband connectivity and lack of training, a new report has found.

At an event in Larne’s Willowbank Business Park to mark the end of the North East Digital Champion Programme, a draft report was launched stating that almost 40 per cent of businesses surveyed require more internet capacity to help them to increase sales and develop marketing opportunities.

Meanwhile, 85 per cent reported that they need further digital training to help them develop economically.

In addition, the report recommended that a Digital Champion is appointed for the region, to support businesses and represent their interests at a political, strategic and operational level.

The North East Digital Champion Programme was a programme of free digital workshops and bespoke one-to-one mentoring that has been running since January. A total of 80 businesses have received mentoring, and 160 attended workshops across the region.

The programme, delivered by Belfast-based agency Oli on behalf of the former Larne Borough Council, focused on helping businesses to grow their online presence and sales, and workshops included guest speakers from local businesses presenting case studies on how to do this effectively. Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Councillor Billy Ashe who also spoke at the event said: “This was a very productive programme and we welcome the findings of the draft digital opportunities and infrastructure report. We regularly hear from businesses how they struggle with poor broadband connection.

“We hope that this report will help to pave the way for improvements where they are needed, as well as support the call for further training and a Digital Champion role developed to serve as an digital ambassador right across the region.