Derry and the wider North West city region’s unique strategic cross border location will be one of the strong selling points for a cross border trade delegation travelling to Philadelphia and Boston this week.
The trade and investment mission, led by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, includes representatives from third level and further education providers and development organisations including Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, the North West Regional College, Donegal ETB and Catalyst.
Eight companies from the region are also travelling as part of the delegation to look at opportunities for expanding into the US market. They are O’Neill’s International Sports wear, Humanity Cosmetics, Learning Pool and Brand It Technologies from Derry and Strabane.
From Donegal, EKO Chute, MMG Welding, Wild Fuschia Bakery and Crolly Distillery are also on the trip.
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Michaela Boyle, is travelling as part of the delegation with her counterpart in Donegal, An Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Nicholas Crossan, alongside senior officials from both Councils.
John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council, says the mission is hugely important in terms of building on the region’s strong political, economic and cultural linkages with the US.
He highlighted the importance of the cross border partnership element of the trip, saying that key to the success of the trade mission is the collaborative approach by both Councils in promoting and selling Derry-Letterkenny-Strabane city region as a well-placed investment hub for business and global companies that are seeking to establish a gateway to both the UK and EU markets.
He said: “This trade mission is a real opportunity for us to focus on our strengths in terms of location, talent and partnership.
“It is our chance to promote our unique location to the business and investment community in the US by highlighting the strengths of the region and our ability to offer the benefits of market access to both Northern Ireland and the EU.
“We will be very positive in our approach to emphasise to potential investors the strong selling points we have in terms of our location, our talented skills base, our cultural compatibility and quality of life.
“This trade mission has real potential to not only showcase the North West as an investment location but also strengthen the educational, political, cultural and diaspora connections we have with the US.
“We have enjoyed much success to date with three trade missions to Boston and two to Philadelphia with 40 companies availing of the support to develop their export strategy into the US market.
“In addition to strengthening our cross border business networks and developing strong civic links with Boston and Philadelphia, the delegation successfully signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the City of Boston, a MoU with NWRC and Philadelphia Community College and a MoU between NWRC and State of PA and will be hopeful to further develop those leads during the visit.”
As part of the trade mission, the delegation will promote the educational opportunities in the North West with the diaspora community in Philadelphia where educational organisations will have the opportunity to showcase the world-leading education provision across UU, NWRC, LYIT and Donegal ETB.
The group will meet with leading business executives and industry influencers in both Boston and Philadelphia including Mayors Kenney and Walsh from the Cities of Philadelphia and Boston respectively.
The Mayors will use the occasion to strengthen the civic ties that exist between these two great American cities and the North West.
A key event during the visit will be the launch of the ‘Atlas for a City Region’ at Harvard University - a unique 18 month long project commissioned by Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council under the auspices of the North West Regional Development Group.
It investigates how the cross border Derry/Letterkenny North West City Region can be shaped in light of the economic, political and social realities of Brexit.
The group will also attend a series of civic events including meetings with the Irish International Immigrant Centre, Boston’s District Hall and the Boston State House, as well as take part in the annual Golden Bridges Conference and Awards luncheon.
The companies travelling with the delegation will follow their own bespoke itinerary where they will meet with key contacts to explore and understand opportunities in the US market, develop in-market networks and build relationships with potential customers, agents/distributors.
For more information on the trade mission, visit www.irelandNW.com and follow the hashtag #IrelandNW19.