Minister Gordon Lyons made the comments during his speech today at Lisburn Chamber of Commerce’s annual President’s Lunch at Hinch Distillery.
The Minister said: “Covid-19 has dramatically reshaped our economy but it has also highlighted the resilience and creativity of our business community. It has given us all a determination to rebuild and refocus our economy as we seek to deliver our 10X vision.
“Rightly, much of the focus during the pandemic was on supporting our businesses and economy through the worst days. My Department worked quickly and efficiently and, as a result of this, provided over £514million in support. This secured thousands of jobs and businesses and ensured that when restrictions were lifted we still had an economy to rebuild.
“That early support built a solid bridge to where we are now – which is working on achieving an uninterrupted and sustainable reopening of our economy.
“I want to publicly thank businesses owners, staff and workers for everything they did and the sacrifices they made during the darkest of days when Covid-19 was at its height. We witnessed the very best of our business community; pivoting to produce PPE; providing local deliveries to the most vulnerable in our communities and ploughing on through the most challenging of conditions.
“Whilst we still need to be cautious, I am confident about the future. The 10X Economic vision for Northern Ireland is an ambitious vision, which focuses on innovation, ensuring the benefits of economic growth benefit all our people, and which delivers positive outcomes for the economy, society and the environment.
“I look forward to working with you to ensure we meet my aim for Northern Ireland to become one of the world’s leading small economies.”
The Minister added that the economy will be boosted by the High Street Scheme which will give everyone aged 18 and over a pre-paid card worth £100 to spend on their high streets.
Minister Lyons also visited a number of County Down retail businesses including car dealership Bells Crossgar and homeware and hardware store Jacksons of Saintfield.