Barriers to Derry investment flagged at business summit

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Lack of suitable workspaces, poor transport infrastructure and unsuitable education courses have been identified as barriers to major international companies investing in Derry.

The issues were discussed at a event hosted by the Mayor of Derry, councillor Kevin Campbell, in November to discuss ways of attracting investors to the city. A report on the meeting will be presented to members of Derry City Council’s development committee tomorrow.

The business lunch was attended by the Council’s economic development officers, representatives from the Culture Company and eleven of the city’s key investors.

It was designed to increase connections with international businesses and investors and identify barriers to current and future investment in the city.

The report states that one of the barriers is “not enough grade A high quality workspaces available for technology businesses” and a lack of car parking at key commercial and industrial locations, which leads to additional costs incurred by employees.

The investors also said education courses in the city need to be tailored to suit the needs of employers in order to attract firms to the city. “Technology changes very quickly which impacts on the skill and capability requirements of graduates.

“Many graduates seeking employment need conversion courses as what is taught is often not needed in local industry and quickly becomes obsolete as new technology emerges.

“Courses must reflect the needs of industry and further and higher education courses need to be more up to date and flexible.

“Initiatives need to also be implemented at primary school level.

“Prioritisation of STEM subjects will give Derry a competitive edge in the future,” the report adds.

The group of investors also identified high energy costs across the North as a barrier to firms setting up in Derry.

Road connections between Derry and Belfast and delays to the A5 Western Transport Corridor were also highlighted in the report as issues of concern to potential investors.

The investors also said if a large cluster of highly capable staff with specialist technical skills are developed and retained this will be a catalyst for future inward investment.

The report also states that a number of the issues have been raised previously and are currently being dealt with by other Council strategies.

The report will be discussed at the afternoon’s meeting of the development committee.