Northern Ireland - now is the time to invest

The Northern Ireland Executive will work to ensure continued economic growth and success, according to Economy Minister Nigel Dodds.

The Minister was addressing delegates at the Northern Ireland Business Proposition session of the Investment Conference, in BBC Blackstaff Studios.

Mr Dodds continued: “Northern Ireland has come a long way in the past ten years, economically, socially and politically, as the foundations of a more confident Northern Ireland are being laid.

“Our economy is transitioning successfully towards tradeable services and niche manufacturing.  Whilst we can compete in areas of niche manufacturing, in the past ten years, Northern Ireland has developed a growing reputation to develop software for telecoms, to locate financial services and business applications and increasingly, to undertake sophisticated financial processing, including funds management.”

In addition to messages of support from US President Bush and EU President Barossa, delegates heard a number of existing major North American investors, including Mike Zafirovski (Nortel), Jim Foster (Citi), John Spangler (Seagate) Brian Goggin (Bank of Ireland Security Services), Cathy Brune (Allstate), Stuart McGuigan (Liberty IT), and Bill Rohner (Caterpillar) talk about their experience of investing in Northern Ireland.

Thanking them for their contributions, the Minister said: “We are grateful to the many existing North American investors who have been prepared to share their experiences this morning. Many of these companies have not only invested, but have subsequently reinvested. In business, there is truly nothing better, and no better advocate, than a satisfied customer.

This is clearly evident this morning with the £3 million expansion announcement by NYSE Euronext, supported by Invest Northern Ireland.  

“The NYSE Euronext will be creating 75 high value jobs in ICT, one of our targeted sectors for Foreign Direct Investment.  This is an important sector and one which has the potential to generate considerable growth in the economy through the development of indigenous companies and through new Foreign Direct Investment.

“Projects like this further enhance our reputation as a prime location for international investment.”

Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, spoke about his Department’s commitment to working with investors to provide quality training, tailored to employers’ needs.

The Minister said: “For us to attract investment from our US visitors we must be able to provide a flexible, highly skilled workforce.  My Department is committed to working with investors and, together with Invest NI, we will help recruit, train and develop the workforce to meet the specific requirements of employers.  We provide support for investors, both before, during and after operations are established here.”

President Bush’s Special Envoy on Northern Ireland Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky listened to the presentations.

The Ambassador said: "Northern Ireland is a productive partner for business, and provides many opportunities for investment. As just one example, its highly educated workforce, competitive cost environment, and robust infrastructure have already led to 17 first-time U.S. investments in software development, generating around $150m and creating over 1,500 jobs. Opportunities in Northern Ireland exist in every community and in numerous business sectors. This conference gave its many participants a chance to see the rich and diverse possibilities awaiting them, as Northern Ireland steps forth into the global market place.”

Concluding the presentation, Minister Dodds said: “Now, more than ever, people around the world are looking at opportunities in Northern Ireland and coming to the conclusion that now is the time to invest. Their decisions are increasingly being based on the key selling proposition that Northern Ireland offers – being cost competitive, close to customers and culturally compatible. I am certain that the visiting delegates, the majority of whom are here for the first time, will have been impressed by what they have seen and heard.”

The primary private sector supporters of the Conference are Northern Bank and BT.