Judith Cochrane MLA said: “Having previously worked as an operations consultant for various small businesses here in Northern Ireland, I recognise that we have a range of SMEs with boundless potential. However this potential and enthusiasm is not always matched by financial backing, business support, incentives for sustainable growth or the appropriate legislative environment.
“Most MLAs will have had first-hand experience of businesses in their own constituencies facing financial challenges and developmental hurdles in the current climate.
“This new Assembly Group is therefore an attempt to bring together key stakeholders to identify the key strategic issues facing SMEs here and to generate practical ideas and proposals which we can then feed in to the work of the Assembly and Executive.
“Regardless of our history or our politics, business owners, entrepreneurs, academics, agencies and MLAs must work collectively in building the appropriate legislative environment for small businesses to flourish.
“We have a small population but this should not confine our growth or our long term objectives.
“We boast a colourful, capable and captivating society here in Northern Ireland and we owe it to ourselves to be ambitious.”