Derry one of top five Invest NI beneficiaries, says Economy Minister Diane Dodds when quizzed on ‘levelling-up’

Diane Dodds has said Derry has been one of the top five beneficiaries of Invest NI over the past five years.
Economy Minister Diane DoddsEconomy Minister Diane Dodds
Economy Minister Diane Dodds

The Economy Minister made the claim when asked by SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin if she intended replicating the British government’s ‘Levelling-Up’ agenda in the north.

Mrs. Dodd said her department is fully committed to the ‘Levelling-Up’ process that is aimed at addressing regional economic imbalances across the UK, according to London.

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Mrs. McLaughlin asked the minister if she would use the model to address regional economic imbalance in north, including the ‘disadvantage felt by the North West.’

The minister replied: “Sub-regional engagement is a priority for DfE and remains strong, including in the Londonderry area.

“DfE and Invest NI are actively working with Derry City & Strabane District Council and regional partners to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the development and growth of the regional economy in the North West.”

She claimed that Derry was one of the top beneficiaries of Invest NI support in absolute and per capita terms over the past half decade.

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“For the past five years, Foyle has been in the top five constituencies across Northern Ireland, in terms of assistance offered by Invest NI and planned investment, both overall and in terms of per adult population,” she stated.

Mrs. Dodds said her department was working with partner organisations to realise the ambitions of the Derry City Deal that will lead to hundreds of millions of pounds being invested locally.

“Both the Department and Invest NI are working with the Council and other relevant stakeholders on the emerging projects within the region’s ‘City Deal’ proposal, with targeted investment in excess of £200m,” said the minister.

DfE’s new ‘10X Economy’ paper - a 44 page document that sets out the department’s ‘economic vision for a decade of innovation’ but doesn’t specifically mention Derry once - will also play a role in the local ‘Levelling-Up’ agenda, the minister said.

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“The recently published ‘10x Economy Vision’ also provides a bold and ambitious framework to build an innovative and inclusive economy that will bring positive economic, social and environmental outcomes for all our people. The Vision recognises the importance of place based investment, including: recognition of our innovation ecosystem; our thriving tourism offering; and our innovative and agile business environment. It also includes taking advantage of emerging opportunities like the flexibility offered by responding to digital advancements such as the change in attitudes to remote working,” she said.

The minister maintained that economic productivity is only one aspect of Levelling-Up, and disparities in education, investment, employment and health also need to be addressed.

“Levelling-Up is as much about investment in people as it is about place. Our approach to Levelling-Up is therefore holistic and wide ranging, and the strategic approach we have developed will be to the benefit to the whole of NI as we move forward.”