Programme shapes up for US-NI investment conference

Programme details for the US-NI Investment Conference were revealed today by the Economy Minister, Nigel Dodds.

The conference will run from 7-9 May, commencing with a Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening at the Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra.

The next day takes the US delegates from Blackstaff Studios in Belfast to Parliament Buildings, at Stormont and in the evening to Hillsborough Castle. The formal proceedings conclude on Friday morning at the Culloden Hotel and delegates then have the opportunity to visit all parts of Northern Ireland for business and leisure activities.

Commenting on the response from the United States to the conference, Minister Dodds said: “When Invest NI first started planning for the conference, we had hoped to attract 30 – 40 senior executives from major US corporations operating in those market sectors where we see the best opportunities for future inward investment.

“I can now confirm that there has been an overwhelmingly positive response and, to date, over 70 companies have said that it is their intention to visit Northern Ireland in May for the conference. Of these, over 40 will be visiting Northern Ireland for the first time and the rest will be representatives of existing investors. In total, we hope to welcome ninety senior executives to Northern Ireland to be part of this event.”

The Minister went on to outline the programme content and said: “Myself and Ambassador Dobriansky will host a reception at the Transport Museum for our visiting delegates, existing investors, NI business and the many stakeholders who have a vital role to play in driving our economy to the next level.

“At this, our guests will have the opportunity to see some of the rich industrial heritage of Northern Ireland and also to hear at first hand from some of our young people. At the reception guests will have the opportunity to sample a ‘Taste of Ulster’ with speciality foods being served from each of our six counties.

“On Thursday morning, the conference will commence at the BBC Blackstaff Studios, where delegates will hear from existing investors.”

Confirmed speakers who will tell their success stories of investing and working in Northern Ireland include Mike Zafirovski, CEO of Nortel, Jim Foster, CAO (EMEA) of Citi, John Spangler, Managing Director of Seagate, Brian Goggin, Group Chief Executive of the Bank of Ireland, Bill Rohner, Vice President of Caterpillar’s Electric Power division, Cathy Brune, CIO, Allstate Insurance and Stuart McGuigan, CTO of Liberty Mutual.

Delegates will also hear from Minister Empey on Department for Employment and Learning’s commitment to providing quality training tailored to employers’ needs.

An exhibition will also be on show in Blackstaff, to highlight the Northern Ireland business story. It will include community and entrepreneurial material to illustrate that the region is open for business.

The Minister continued: “At lunchtime, the conference will move to Parliament Buildings, where the guests will be hosted by the First and Deputy First Minister. There, the US delegation will enjoy lunch and listen to speeches by the Ministers, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and Sir Tony O’Reilly.

“Hillsborough Castle will then play host to the visitors and representatives from Northern Ireland business at a gala dinner, where key dignatories will address the audience.

“On Friday morning, breakfast briefings including Financial Services, ICT and Alternative Investment Opportunities will take place. These will be followed by a press conference, to reflect on the conference and on what the visitors have seen and heard throughout.

“Delegates will then have the opportunity to travel across Northern Ireland on trips including, tailored visits to local companies and Centres of Excellence or enjoy a range of leisure activities from golf at Royal Portrush to tours of some of our landmark tourist attractions.”

Minister Dodds believes this conference provides a one-time opportunity to showcase the new Northern Ireland, which is open for business.

Mr Dodds said: “This US-NI Investment Conference represents the largest number and highest quality senior business people to visit Northern Ireland at any one time. It provides a unique opportunity to capitalise on the potential of our political stability and excellent investment proposition.

“The Conference enjoys the full support of the Northern Ireland Executive and the US Administration. Both the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach will be participating.”

The primary supporters of the conference are Northern Bank and BT.