Invest NI ‘Groundhog day’ for Derry

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood pictured outside his constituency office at Northside Shopping Centre. 1301JM06
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood pictured outside his constituency office at Northside Shopping Centre. 1301JM06
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Invest NI have again been accused of directing too much money to Belfast and not enough to companies in Derry and the north west.

Foyle SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood says new figures obtained through questions in the Assembly “mark the equivalent of an economic ‘Groundhog Day’ for this city.”

The figures which detail where InvestNI allocated funds show that Derry companies received £4.12m from Invest NI - or 5% of it’s total funding - during the 2011/12 financial year.

Over the same time frame firms in South Belfast received £22million - a quarter of all money available to Invest NI.

“This city has the north’s highest level of unemployment. If this wasn’t bad enough, this is aligned with a dismal track record of investment by the North’s leading jobs agency,” Mr Eastwood says.

He first raised concerns last year when it was revealed InvestNI offered firms in Derry just 2.4% of it’s total funding, while at the same time companies in East Belfast received 26.1% of the economic development bodies’ funding. The MLA says there is now an onus on Stormont to address the imbalance.

“Will Stormont’s leadership enforce the political priority that areas of high unemployment will receive a higher percentage of Invest NI spend?”

InvestNI say funding allocation is not determined by geographic areas.

“Support for projects is demand-led and can only be considered where a company has brought forward a viable business plan,” a spokeswoman says.

She says in terms of foreign direct investment it is the “investor who decides where to locate their investment project, not Invest NI.”