Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster last night announced a major initiative to help local construction and civil engineering companies win business from the new £15billion Crossrail project in London.
The Minister was speaking at the first in a series of events being planned by Invest Northern Ireland to enable local companies to develop contacts with contractors already working on the huge investment project in London.
Twelve buyers from major contractors, such as Balfour Beatty, BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Kier, Carillion, Costain, EdF,and Morgan Sindall, met directors of 40 local companies in the House of Lords at a special 'Meet the Buyer' dinner and networking event about Crossrail opportunities.
Arlene Foster said: “Crossrail is now the largest and most comprehensive construction and civil engineering project in Europe. The investment to create an underground rail network for the 21st century presents huge business opportunities for Northern Ireland companies across a broad range of sectors.
“While a number of construction companies have secured significant business from the other major projects in London such as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I am keen to see a great many more engaged in projects such as Crossail, which a huge UK business opportunity.
“To help our companies harness the business, Invest Northern Ireland has appointed an experienced UK construction industry professional, Nick Turberville. Nick will be based in London and will be engaged in a structured programme of practical support to raise awareness in London about the capabilities and experience of the Northern Ireland construction and civil engineering industry.
“Nick has relevant experience from his work on construction projects associated with the London Olympics. The programme he is developing with Invest NI’s Trade team will include a series of ‘meet the buyer’ type events, site visits, one-to-one guidance, support on tender opportunities, requirements and procedures, as well as lead generation.
“The aim will be to assist as many companies as possible to become part of the supply chains of the main contractors already involved in the project and those likely to win business in the future.
“It is essential that Northern Ireland shares in the projected £15billion boost to the UK economy and the additional 30,000 new jobs that Crossrail is projected to provide.”
The Minister described the focus on winning Crossrail business as a further example of how practical support is being offered to an industry which has been impacted by the economic downturn.
Arlene Foster added: “While the Crossrail project is likely to offer the greatest opportunities to construction and civil engineering from the development of a vast network of underground tunnels, modern stations and other facilities, I am convinced that there is scope for Northern Ireland companies in other sectors to benefit from this unprecedented investment in the creation of a world class and affordable railway that will help solve the city’s public transport congestion.”