Local MLA requests meeting with minister about investment strategy

A local MLA has requested an urgent meeting with the Economy Minister after it was revealed almost 90 per cent of Invest NI visits are to a Belfast location.
SDLP Councillor Sinead McLaughlin.SDLP Councillor Sinead McLaughlin.
SDLP Councillor Sinead McLaughlin.

Details were published of locations visited by potential inward investors to Northern Ireland hosted by Invest NI earlier this week.

In the 2018/19 year, there were 278 visits (87%) to Belfast, compared to just six (2%) in the Foyle constituency and a mere two (less than 1%) in East Derry.

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SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin described the situation as ‘unacceptable’.

“The focus on Belfast from Invest NI will not be a surprise to many, but the statistics released recently are particularly damning, with almost 90% of potential investor visits limited to Belfast,” she said.

“It is crucial we spread jobs and investment across Northern Ireland, particularly in the most deprived areas, that have the highest levels of economic inactivity. It is my view that the Department of Economy and Invest NI need to include sub-regional targets for investment and job creation. This situation is nothing short of a disgrace and cannot be allowed to continue.”

The MLA said she has written to the Economy Minister Diane Dodds, to seek and urgent meeting to press for inclusion of sub regional targets in the new economy strategy.

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A spokesperson for Invest NI said it is actively working in partnership with all 11 local councils to grow investment.

“Invest NI and the 11 local councils are actively working in partnership to help grow investment and the economy in every part of Northern Ireland. Investment comes in many forms and a set of figures about the number of inward visits is not reflective of the work that is going on.

“For example, nearly 75% of Invest NI’s offers are to companies outside of Belfast, with recent investments in Derry such as the 256 jobs being created by Alchemy Technology Services, the 300 jobs being created by Fintru, the 67 jobs being created by Danske Bank, the 100 jobs being created by Terex Corporation as part of a £12million investment in a new facility in the city and expansions by Computershare and Axa.”

The spokesperson added: “Addressing the point that over 80% of inward visits go to Belfast – this should be viewed in context. The vast majority of visit programmes start in Belfast before going to other locations, or in some cases the investor has no time to visit specific locations so are hosted at our HQ in Belfast. What is more relevant is that over the last five years, nearly 40% of investors chose to locate their project outside of Belfast.”