Martin McGuinness says he is hopeful that this week’s whistle-top investment mission to the United States will lead to new jobs in Derry.
Alongside First Minister Arlene Foster, Mr. McGuinness took part in a four-day visit to New York, Washington DC and San Francisco which involved meetings with President Barack Obama, key political players and existing and potential investors.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ from Washington, the deputy First Minister said: “I am very encouraged by the reception we received.
“The US is our number one foreign direct investor with nearly 180 US companies now based here, including several in Derry who are huge employers locally.
“We had very positive discussions with those existing investors and several potential new investors and I am hopeful those contacts will result in new investment in the future.
“It is obvious that US companies are keen to locate in Ireland, mainly because of our highly educated and talented work force.”
Mr McGuinness revealed that he had also met both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden who, he said, remained very focused on the benefits which US economic investment can bring to the north of Ireland.
“They made it very clear they are keen to assist us in anyway they can,” he added.
“They expressed their very strong support for the Fresh Start Agreement and discussed the possibility of more trade and congressional missions to the North.
“I think we can expect to see progress on that in the very near future.”
Mr. McGuinness insisted such visits were crucial to maximise the potential for foreign investment.
“Real and lasting relationships are established and developed through face to face contact,” he said. “If you don’t make the effort to come out here, you simply don’t count.”
During his visit to the west coast, Mr. McGuinness also met with business leaders in Silicon Valley, including Seagate CEO Steve Luczo.
“Seagate,” he said, “is of huge importance to our economy... Their continued commitment to the people of the North West is a vote of confidence in their skills, experience and track record of performance.”