Mayor Hilary McClintock has hailed a visit to the US “a resounding success” ahead of the Clipper fleet’s trans-Atlantic race to Derry.
The Mayor led the Council delegation to the United States last week, and said the visit was a great opportunity to put the city and district on the international map.
The delegation was organised to allow the Mayor, Council officials and local businesses to engage with prominent members of the Irish Diaspora and meet with the crews of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race ahead of their arrival in the city next month.
During the five-day trip, Mayor McClintock attended a series of cultural and business-related events accompanied by council officials and representatives of Invest NI, to promote the region and further strengthen links between the two regions.
Speaking following the visit, the Mayor said she was overwhelmed by the warm welcome the delegation received and the awareness of the good work that is being done here in the North West region in terms of culture and tourism and promoting our new story.
She said she was delighted to work alongside Invest NI, Tourism Ireland and the NI Bureau and the excellent work they did to support the visit and organise a series of events, including a high profile lunch event that was attended by 140 businesses and civic contacts that were addressed by the Mayor and the Council Chief Executive John Kelpie.
A key part of the visit was meeting with the Clipper Race teams as they departed from New York on the eighth leg of the race ahead of their arrival in Derry next month which will coincide with the Foyle Maritime Festival.
“It was fantastic to catch up with the Clipper Race teams and in particular the Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew ahead of their departure to the homeport. We told them to expect a huge welcome and 10 days of celebration when they sail up the Foyle in July and that plans are at an advanced stage for a spectacular Foyle Maritime Festival of activities.
“The visit offered us the opportunity to see at first hand the excellent work that is being done in establishing strong links between our city and district in the United States and to further develop those relationships that will benefit us long into the future,” the Mayor said,
During the visit the delegation met with local business and political figures and attended a series of meetings geared towards generating investment and trade links.
“The meetings we attended were hugely beneficial in terms of promoting the region as a great place to visit and invest in. It provided us with a unique opportunity to showcase our well educated and skilled workforce, our tourism and heritage attributes and look at potential new opportunities for investment and trade between our city and district and the United States.
“I was delighted that two local companies – Piecemakers and Troy Armour - who travelled as part of our delegation, got the chance to establish new trading opportunities and develop relationships with potential investors in the US,” she said.
A very popular element of the visit was the focus on geneology and the city and district’s strong emigration and heritage links. The Mayor presided over the official opening of the Derry Londonderrys of the World, exploring the city’s legacy in other locations across the world which have adopted the same name, while local Genealogist Brian Mitchell gave a number of talks on local ancestry highlighting the strong historic ties between the North West and the New York Diaspora.
Mayor McClintock said she felt very proud to be representing the city and district in New York and was overwhelmed at the level of positivity and goodwill that exists for the region.
“Everywhere we went people were so warm and friendly and willing to engage with us. They wanted to hear our new story and learn about the positive work we are doing to develop and regenerate our city and district. We were delighted to be able to tell them about our Community Plan and our bid for European Youth Capital Status in 2019, as well as our commitment to expand the Magee campus at Ulster University,” she added.