Welcome boost for the town’s industry

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There’s good news on the industrial front this week with the creation of a new 10-acre industrial-retail estate at Carn by local businessman Neil Salt.

The Salt name is synonymous with the motor trade, with ‘self-made man’ Mr Salt now making a name for himself in the realms of development. And with his zeal and experience, the future of his latest project looks good.

The site is in the environs of the spectacularly successful Carn and Seagoe industrial estates, with the welcome thousands of jobs they have brought to Portadown - the likes of Moy Park, Irwin’s, Almac, NACCO, plus a plethora of medium and smaller factories. Collectively, they provide jobs and skills to an area that is blessed with almost full employment.

There are five large units within the site, each unit being between 1.5 acres and 2.5 acres. Interest is already brisk, and the actual marketing of the units is fascinating. Dungannon photographer Jim McKerr – through his firm Skytask Aerial Imaging – sent one of those modern ‘toys for boys’ gismos, a drone, up into the air. It produced a series of razor-sharp photos and a superb video to record the development.

And it shows the fact the Portadown is so lucky to have the communication of the motorway system – a direct route to the Belfast, via the M12 and M1, and the airports for easy access to exports. Portadown has been lucky over the years and decades in the industrial sense. The town’s various industries councils and the Chamber of Commerce attracted the likes of Metal Box, Wades and Ulster Laces after the linen trade flopped.

And while the new city project of Craigavon may have had its critics – especially in the housing sector – Portadown benefitted immensely with the construction of the industrial estates. The initial emphasis was on food companies and this came to pass with the advent of the Moy Parks and with Irwins moving out of the centre of Portadown.

But it went beyond food, with Almac and NACCO establishing and expanding, plus the various technological companies. There’s an old maxim in Portadown - dating back to the linen days – that there’s work for most of those who want it.

Mr Salt’s scheme is the latest in that sequence, and the units can either be used as large retail warehouses or as burgeoning industrial units – the aerial picture on today’s front page shows its potential, and a video of the project is being prepared for our website. And it shows the location beside another major company that is thriving in Portadown – the NACCO (or Hyster) factory that enjoyed a visit from Prime Minister David Cameron not so long ago.

The industrial estates are indeed a great boon to the area, but what a pity their surroundings aren’t retained in better condition – namely, the eye-high grass that despoils the vista. Nearby businessman Ian Milne this week had to call in a private firm to cut the grass verges, which could be a growing phenomenon with only one cut a year.

Massive businesses like those in Carn and Seagoe must be wondering why they’re paying such high rates and taxes for so little return.