Stream Global Services has been challenged to state why it has snubbed Derry in favour of Belfast for the creation of almost 1,000 jobs.
There was outrage yesterday when it was announced that the US company - which shed a workforce of almost 1,200 people in Derry - has set up a call centre in East Belfast to create 993 jobs in a £3.3m total investment with the help of £2,879,700 from Invest Northern Ireland.
Politicians and business leaders have expressed their disappointment at the move in light of the company’s previous strong relationship with Derry.
Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin has challenged Minister for Enterprise Arlene Foster to explain the rationale behind the move, to the one time Derry workforce.
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood said questions need to be asked of “our resident” deputy first minister as to how he could allow a company which closed its Derry operation, to avail of almost £3m of public money to set up in Belfast.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan has written to Northern Ireland Manager of Stream, Patrick Forrester, seeking clarification on why Derry was not chosen for the jobs boost in order to replace those lost when the company wound down its operations in the city.
Mr Forrester defended the company’s decision yesterday, stating that the Derry and Belfast projects were “completely unrelated”. “This project was initiated two years ago by LMB Direct Marketing, the founder company in Springvale. LBM were acquired by Stream Global Services in February this year so these 1,000 jobs are not related to any previous project and are simply an expansion of our existing work and therefore location and so on are based on fulfilling our existing customers’ needs,” he said.
Mr Durkan said “obvious questions” over the company restoring some jobs to Derry need answered. “People here are rightly interested in Stream’s future consideration of a location where it has history. However, they are also perturbed by that unfortunate impression – including from media shorthand – that a company with employment experience in Derry is not choosing to restore jobs there but create new ones in Belfast.”
Chamber of Commerce President Philip Gilliland said the move, while understandable, “is very disappointing”. He added: “The decision underlines the necessity for Derry to ensure it has everything in place to attract inward investment and to support the expansion of local businesses.”