A new £1m cycling and walking route is to be constructed in Strabane.

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee approved the project on Thursday.

The project will see the district connected with Buncrana, Lifford and Muff

It will involve a 3.5km route connecting the A5, Derry Road, Canal Basin, River Mourne Flood Wall and Strabane Retail Park.

The project is being funded by Stormont departments, the Irish government and the Special EU Programmes Body.

Jonathan Henderson, Programme Manager for the North West Greenway Network, said it is “fantastic that planning has now been approved”.

“Council will now proceed to appoint a construction company with the aim of completing the project this year.”

The council says the project is a ‘key aspect’ of the Strabane-Lifford greenway which will help connect the district with Buncrana, Lifford and Muff in County Donegal.

Councillor Christopher Jackson, chair of the council’s planning committee said: “The completed project will offer cyclists and walkers a wider, safer and more user friendly experience and can play a key role in encouraging the public to get out into the fresh air and reap the health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity.”

A Women in Tech-themed event and startup pitching competition have been announced as part of the upcoming Derry-Strabane Enterprise Week 2020.

The 5th March event, hosted by leading startup community and platform Startacus, will focus on the wider themes of diversity and inclusion, and aims to inspire and motivate attendees through discussions, key-note speakers, workshops, a women in tech startup pitch competition and an evening social and networking event.

The pitch competition will invite shortlisted female-led tech startups from across Ireland to the stage to pitch their businesses to a panel of industry leaders and enterprise experts. The overall winner will be announced at the evening social event and the winning startup will receive a prize package.

Alastair Cameron, Startacus co-founder, said: “As well as inspiring and empowering attendees, we see this as a great opportunity to showcase innovative startups in the local area, bring standout keynote speakers to the city, and in turn encourage more people to embark on their own entrepreneurial journeys.”

Enterprise Week 2020 runs from 2nd March to 6th March. For full programme details, go to www.derrystrabane.com/enterpriseweek

If you are interested in getting involved or sponsoring the Women in Tech event, please contact Alastair@startacus.net

The North West region’s unique strategic cross-border location and pipeline of talent were the key messages to potential US investors during a recent trade mission to Philadelphia and Boston.

A number of focused engagements with industry specialists, foreign direct investment executives and venture capitalists took place during the weeklong Ireland North West trade and investment mission, led jointly by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council to showcase the northwest city region’s compelling investment proposition.

Potential investors heard how they could take advantage of the unique combination of benefits the region has to offer, including an accessible, connected and business-friendly gateway region (with a foothold in both EU and UK markets) and a compelling vision for greater international impact, a talented and educated workforce, superb quality of life and a supportive business environment.

The delegation also met with the Mayors of Philadelphia and Boston who outlined their commitment and support for the work being done by the two Councils.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh spoke about his ties with the North West and outlined his commitment to build on the positive work being done to promote strong communities and shared prosperity, while Philadelphia Mayor Senator Jim Kenney vowed to continue to work to celebrate our connections and build on the existing relationship.

The delegation included Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle, An Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Nicholas Crossan, and local businesses from a range of sectors who met with potential clients and business partners.

The trade and investment mission also involved engagement with educational institutions from across the region, and saw the launch of a research project with Harvard Graduate School of Design, exploring how the cross-border northwest city region could be shaped in light of the economic, political and social realities of Brexit.

For more information on the trade mission visit www.irelandNW.com

North West Regional College (NWRC) has secured a huge €1.6 million of Erasmus+ funding, giving staff and students opportunities to study and work across Europe during the next 24 months.

The funding will be used for staff and students from many of the college’s curriculum areas to travel to partner countries including Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Italy and even Reunion Island, and undertake training and development programmes designed around specific curriculum, entrepreneurship, leadership, innovation and creativity.

Staff will also participate in strategic partnership projects collaborating on innovative practices for vocational training and education with a number of key European partners.

Bronagh Fikri, NWRC European and International Projects Officer, said the college was also pleased to announce its success in obtaining the Erasmus+ VET Mobility Charter. Currently held by just 14 organisations in the UK, the charter is awarded to organisations with a track record in organising and delivering high-quality mobility projects.

The €1.6 funding boost was revealed at a special event celebrating the success of the college’s Erasmus+ training mobilities and collaborations across European networks in 2018/2019.

During the event, students who have taken part in a range of different mobilities across the world received awards recognising their various achievements.

Philadelphia native Emily McCorkell moved to Derry in 2005. After marrying a local man, relocating to Dublin, and having two children, the family were left devastated when a sudden illness struck her husband. They returned to Derry to rebuild their lives and Emily, inspired by flavours from home, began developing her own hot sauce. Lo & Slo launched in 2018 and in addition to its award-winning Barbecue Sauce and Vinegar Mop, now produces delicious dry rubs and hot street food. You can try Lo & Slo, a member of the LegenDerry Food and Drink Network, for yourself at the Christmas Winterland Market in Derry’s Guildhall Square from December 12th to 15th.

You created Lo & Slo sauces during a very difficult time for you and your family. What were those early days like?

I was stress cooking and force-feeding people! I had a lot of insomnia and I was either baking or cooking or making sauces – anything with food – to take the chaos of our lives and bring a sense of peace and control. My brother visited from the States and saw there was a gap in the market here for an American doing BBQ. With investment help from him, I was able to take it to the Foodovation Centre (in Derry’s North West Regional College), and buy packaging and ingredients. I also got lots of advice at council events and would go and speak to different chefs and butchers with my notebook. I don’t have a business background, so it’s been such a learning curve.

How did it feel to see the finished product for the first time?

It was very, very surreal. Especially because we came out of such a tumultuous time for the family. To see something tangible I could hold, it felt like the key to our future. But it was also really scary. When we took the sauces to last year’s Slow Food Festival, it was incredible. My favourite memory was watching people’s faces as they tasted them. These were strangers who believed in me, my sauce and my business.

How has the business grown since then?

We now have a production unit, rubs and a seasoning blend (with local dulse seaweed). And we’ve moved into hot food catering – I opened up Gumtree one day and stumbled across a food truck for sale locally, all kitted out, so we bought it. After making some small changes, we took it to the LegenDerry Street Food Festival this July. I couldn’t have anticipated how well we did there. I’m also looking into exporting the sauces.

Tell us about the LegenDerry Food and Drink Network?

It’s fabulous. It links up producers of food and drink, chefs, people in hospitality, and tourism. It’s also championing something unique in our city, the Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster. It’s about how the food network will benefit the city, and when the city does well, businesses do well.

How has Derry changed since you moved here 14 years ago?

My dad is from New York and I grew up in Philadelphia. In Derry, everything closed at 5pm and I didn’t know how people got anything done! Things have changed now. The only evening option then was to go out drinking, but now there are things like late night coffee shops and more exercise clubs. And there’s so much great food now; there’s an inverse diaspora where local people like Stephen Forbes (from Mekong Street Food) have come back with flavours from their travels. And there are places like La Tia Juana’s, and 2 North, where people who’ve made Derry their home are sharing cuisine from their own countries.

What are your go-to places for food here?

My dad knew all the alleyways to go down for really good Chinese food in New York, so whenever I get stressed or tired, those are the flavours I crave and I go to Mekong Street Food. The Walled City Brewery does probably the best pork burger I’ve ever had. Sean Harrigan at the Sooty Olive is doing really cool things, and 9ine Hostages on Waterloo Street does really good coffee – I like their pour-over coffee. And I love Doherty’s stew with special mince. I don’t try and make it myself, they do it so well.

What was Christmas like growing up in Philadelphia?

It was really normal to get at least two feet of snow. We would have cleared the snow from the grill outside and just cooked on it. It was cold but it was fun. We didn’t have lots of traditions so my memories are different from every year, but my mom always made cookies. When I moved here, she used to send me parcels full of different cookies.

What are your plans this Christmas?

We’re spending it here. We’ll have the Christmas boxes with pyjamas, and hot chocolate the night before. On Christmas Day we’re cooking dinner and bringing it over to my in-laws – I’m making some special stuffing with cranberries, chestnuts and orange zest but otherwise it will be the traditional Christmas dinner.

What would you say to someone thinking of moving to Derry?

Pack warm clothes! No, I think if anybody has moved away, I would definitely encourage them to give it a second chance. The warmth of the people has stayed the same, but the place has changed so much.

Technical fire engineering services specialist, Joule Group is winning new business in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar following R&D investment. The new contracts are being delivered by the team in Northern Ireland, creating 16 new jobs at its Londonderry headquarters.

The company offers consultancy expertise on fire engineering design, construction and operational processes. Its digital technology platform, Total Fire Solutions (TFS), improves fire safety in buildings such as airports, hotels, retail and sports venues.

It has recently secured fire engineering consultancy services on two major infrastructure projects with a stadium project in Doha and airport development in the UAE. These are multi-year deals for complex engineering projects.

The company already has a portfolio of prestigious projects across 10 different countries from Europe to Middle East and North Africa. This includes working on 10 of the signature super high rise towers in King Abdullah Financial District in Saudi Arabia which will host the G20 Summit in 2020.

John Noone, co-founder and director of Joule Group, said: “We are striving to create a safer world through our transformational technology and are committed to digital fire safety globally. The continual support we have received from Invest NI has been invaluable to the growth of our business.

“By undertaking R&D we have been able to develop our TFS product and secure innovative export deals with globally renowned companies. Business is developing rapidly so we have created a specialist team in the North West to focus on growing in international markets.”

Invest Northern Ireland has offered the company support of over £200,000 to innovate through R&D and to expand its workforce, as well as support towards export market visits. Job opportunities at the company include software engineers, fire engineers, a business support manager and business director. Recruitment is underway, with seven of the 16 roles in place.

Des Gartland, North West Regional Office Manager, Invest NI, said: “Joule Group is a perfect example of how, when a business invests in R&D and in exploring new export markets, it can grow its business and lead to new job creation.

“Our support, both financial and advisory, has helped the company to reach its full potential and we are delighted to see the team grow here. The company’s specialist expertise in the fire engineering sector is already delivering success in international markets, and we look forward to seeing them continue their growth.”

Joule Group’s innovation has been recognised nationally with the Disruptor of the Year award at the Ulster Bank Great British & Northern Irish Entrepreneur Awards 2019.

The company also has offices in Belfast, London, Doha and Dubai.

Global manufacturer Terex has officially opened its new £12m facility in Campsie, which will create 100 jobs locally.

The firm, which makes lifting and material processing solutions, unveiled the 105,000 square foot facility where heavy equipment for Terex Ecotec (waste management and recycling) and mobile conveyors will be manufactured.

Speaking at a reception of over 100 representatives from educational, political and business institutions in the area, Kieran Hegarty, president of Terex Materials Processing revealed that the manufacturer has “ambitious plans for growth” in the future.

“We’ve a fantastic local team now in place and trained in our world-class manufacturing processes. But we don’t stop there. Terex has ambitious plans for growth and just as important as this new facility and filling our current vacant positions is in developing and retaining our people so we have the skills needed to deliver our ambitious growth plans,” he said.

Discussing the new facility, Mr Hegarty added: “As people, businesses and governments become more aware of their carbon footprint we’re seeing enormous growth in demand for environmental equipment globally.

“We’re excited that Terex Campsie has started producing equipment to cater for this market – the type of equipment capable of processing construction and demolition waste or everyday waste from your home – to be exported all over the world.”

Manufacturing at Terex Campsie is underway, with almost 40% of the initial 100 jobs filled. Northern Ireland is a key manufacturing location for the firm, with nine sites in the region and more than 1800 people employed.

Derry City and Strabane District Council Deputy Mayor, Cara Hunter said: “The grand opening today is very good news for our region and reaffirms the North West’s position as a competitive, exciting and innovative place to do business.”

A stunning new walled garden has been unveiled in St Columb’s Park as a shared space for the whole community.

The garden was officially opened during Good Relations Week in September by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle.

The project received over £370,000 in external funding through the EU’s Peace IV Programme (Special EU Programmes Body) for the completion of the garden, and a supporting programme of peace building activity.

The extensive development to the rear of St Columb’s Park House was built by contractor Willie Doherty Construction, and the finished project includes an historic path network at the site and the rebuilding of the Walled Garden enclosure.

The project is identified as a priority in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Parks Development Programme and the Strategic Growth Plan, which commits to protect and promote our natural and built heritage assets and develop our parks and green spaces.

Mayor Boyle said the project would be a welcome addition to the park’s expanding infrastructure: “I am proud to officially open this beautiful new outdoor space which is a key element of the wider St Columb’s Park Regeneration Plan,” she said.

“The Walled Garden enhances the Park’s historic, cultural and landscape amenity and will crucially create a shared space that will benefit the entire community. Congratulations to all the project stakeholders from Council, St Columb’s Park House and the Acorn Fund for their collaborative work in bringing this project to fruition.”

A series of cross-community programmes are planned, themed around ‘Working with the Natural Environment’, ‘Health and Wellbeing’, ‘History and Heritage’ and ‘Art in the Park’.

The PEACE IV Programme is supported by the European Union, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

A high-level delegation from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development has visited the North West to engage with local companies ahead of a trade mission to the US.

During the trip, the representatives met with local businesses and visited Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and CoLab to explore the opportunities for partnership with education and business centres in the US.

The visit comes just weeks before a trade delegation from Derry, Strabane and Donegal travels to Boston and Philadelphia.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle said she was delighted to showcase the city and region for investment and collaborative working.

She added: “The delegates were very impressed with our offering and how well placed we are in terms of offering cost competitive business opportunities in a cross border location, along with high level digital connectivity with a skilled and talented workforce pool.”

John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said the work being done by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and its partners to promote the City Region for investment was beginning to gain momentum.

“We are really seeing the benefits of this joined up and positive approach to establish strong economic development links and initiatives between the US and the North West region,” he added.

“The visit by this delegation puts us in a really positive position ahead of our trade mission planned for November.”

Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council Chief Executive said there would be a strong emphasis during the upcoming trade mission on promoting the region’s strategic cross border location to the US market.

“We will also be showcasing our talent, skills and entrepreneurship along with our strong ICT strengths, well established eco system and quality of life,” he said.

The North West City region trade delegation will build on the work done over the past number of years to build strong political, economic and cultural links and to reach out to the diaspora. Key to the visit is the inclusion of local companies to promote the region as an attractive investment proposition and to develop new market and network opportunities.

For more information, visit www.IrelandNW.com #IrelandNW19.

Foyle Port has announced a new record turnover of £10million, with
an operating profit of £1.9million for the 2018/2019 financial year.

Despite uncertainties over Brexit and its effects, this marks the
Port’s seventh year of consecutive growth.

All profits will be reinvested to improve the business and upgrade
facilities.

Recent financial success has allowed the Port to undertake ambitious
capital investment in assets and infrastructure worth £3.5million, which
includes the purchase of a new harbour crane and expansion of the Port’s
landbank to 155 acres.

Foyle Port, which celebrates its 165th anniversary this
year, now employs more than 100 staff, with a payroll total of £4million per
year.

Foyle Port chair Bonnie Anley said: “Over the last year in
particular, there has been ever increasing anxiety about Brexit and its
impacts. Potential change and uncertainty, both locally and nationally has had
to be managed.

“We’ve risen to that challenge and are ready for the outcome of
Brexit in terms of a ‘deal’ or a ‘no deal’ scenario. As a commercial entity, we
have shown that we can be flexible and adapt to the new realities of the
business environment.”

Foyle Port chief executive Brian McGrath added: “We have a strong
balance sheet and are primed for future investment. We are one year ahead of
delivery in terms of our strategic plan, which will give us much need time
before setting the direction of travel for 2020 and the outcomes of Brexit.”

In addition to the Port’s core activity, it has seen growth in its
diversification programme such as the Port’s civil and structural engineering
division, Foyle Consulting Engineers.