Invest NI Chair, Rose Mary Stalker, charts future plans

Rose Mary Stalker

In the January/February 2020 Edition of Business Eye, Rose Mary Stalker is clear about her short-term priorities as the Chair at Invest Northern Ireland.

“My immediate priority is to ensure the successful delivery of Invest NI’s current 2017-21 Business Strategy against which good progress is being made. We are also beginning to develop our aims and ambitions for the next period.

Over the past five years, businesses we support have increased their employment by 21% and have grown their sales to GB by 47% and to wider export markets by 29%.

“Over the past five years, businesses we support have increased their employment by 21% and have grown their sales to GB by 47% and to wider export markets by 29%. Currently, every £1 of support we offer results in £6 of investment in our economy. We should look at how we can multiply this impact working collaboratively with our partners.”

Invest NI, she adds, is “uniquely placed to provide a convening role with Councils, Universities, Colleges, Business Organisations and Businesses to facilitate efforts in order to provide a coordinated focus as we work collaboratively to overcome challenges and seize opportunities that will promote economic growth in the region.

It’s not surprising that she welcomes the return of devolved government here. “We look forward to supporting Minister Dodds and the wider NI Executive as it develops the next Programme for Government and associated Industrial Strategy. We recognise there are big challenges for our economy and wider society but hopefully the clear commitment to closer partnerships evident in the “New Decade, New Approach” will flow into the Programme for Government and the Outcomes it aims to deliver. If we can support the Executive to increase our balance of trade and drive economic growth, we will help put more people in better jobs. And that’s important because, in turn, it will generate more revenue which can support the Executive to address the wider challenges we face in Health, in Education and in wider society.”

“As a region we are small and currently unsustainable without significant additional funding. Whilst it is unrealistic to think this can be reversed in the short term, if we can focus on actions that build capability, stimulate innovation and increase exports, we will improve our global competitiveness and create better value jobs.

“With an unprecedented UK focus on trade and the potential for Northern Ireland to have a unique trading position, albeit with uncertain administrative burdens, we should be supporting and encouraging, particularly, our indigenous businesses to seize this as an opportunity and focus on export.”

Over the past five years, Belfast has attracted more FDI jobs per head of population than any other city in the UK, with Northern Ireland performing equally as well on a UK regional basis.

Can Northern Ireland re-establish itself as a location for foreign direct investment? “We actually haven’t seen any drop-off in our attraction as an investment location. Indeed, it has grown, based on our strong proposition of talent and value.

“Figures from the Financial Times’ fDiMarkets.com show that over the past five years, Belfast has attracted more FDI jobs per head of population than any other city in the UK, with Northern Ireland performing equally as well on a UK regional basis. In particular, we have become an international location of choice for Financial Services technology, in software development and in cybersecurity.

“Over the past ten years, we have helped bring 161 brand new overseas investors to Northern Ireland with the promise of almost 10,000 new jobs. The vast majority of these are well paid, high quality jobs. “We have also seen interest from Republic of Ireland companies who are interested in the unique trading position of NI to establish a UK presence in order to protect, or grow, their interests in that market.”

“Of course, we are competing with many other regions and countries for internationally mobile investment so are constantly refining our proposition to keep us ahead.”

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