“Construction of a £150 million state of the art power station to replace the existing oil fired plant at Coolkeeragh on the outskirts of Londonderry is bringing real, local economic benefits.” Leslie Morrison, Chief Executive of Invest Northern Ireland said today.

During a visit to the construction site, Mr Morrison was briefed by Richard Sterling, CEO of Coolkeeragh Power Station on how the “Supplier Development Model”, supported by Invest NI, has already resulted in local businesses winning contracts worth more than £21 million in total, in activities such as construction, civil works, scaffolding, piping erection, electrical contracting, cleaning, site security and administration.

The Coolkeeragh ‘Supplier Development Model’ involved a number of actions to help build relationships between local companies and the various buyers on the main contractor side. These included an internet-based database of suppliers, skills and competencies, with an associated forum for knowledge exchange between Invest NI, Coolkeeragh, the main contractor and local suppliers. Support initiatives covering Information Technology, legal advice and a buyer’s forum were also included. As a result, the local economy has maximised the benefits from the project, both in economic and skill enhancement terms.

Mr Morrison said: “The Supplier Development Model is an excellent example of relatively modest investments in modern technology yielding substantial business benefits. To date, Invest NI has contributed £130,000 to this project which, through the sharing of knowledge in an efficient and effective manner, has seen over £21 million reinvested in the local economy. As important has been the time and commitment invested by ourselves, North West Marketing, Coolkeeragh and ESB since the inception of the project. The Coolkeeragh Supplier Model offers an excellent template to ensure that future major capital investment programmes provide maximum benefit to local communities. We are exploring the best way to deliver this added value in future.”

Welcoming the wider contribution which the initiative is making to the wider economy, Mr Morrison continued: “The inward capital investment associated with the construction of this modern Power Station is creating notable opportunities and advantages for local firms. Such has been the success of this project, that we fully expect to exceed our original target of £30 million worth of business for local companies by the time the Power Station is commissioned in 2005.

“This initiative has benefited the North West by creating a Construction/Engineering cluster in the region. It has enhanced the skills base, improved capability, created employment and increased the competitiveness of local companies. ” he said.

Outlining the longer term potential for local businesses as a result of the initiative, Mr Morrison continued; “Local businesses are immediately benefiting from the construction phase, which covers the engineering, procurement, construction and the commissioning of the Power Station and we hope that this experience will provide a platform for future growth.”