Photography: Michael Cooper
Pictured (L-R) are Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile, Oonagh Hinds of Invest NI, Seamus Oprey, Chairman of West Belfast Partnership and Bill Montgomery from Invest NI.
Invest Northern Ireland’s overseas trade and investment teams recently visited West Belfast as part of the organisation’s annual overseas sales conference. During their visit, they met with local stakeholders and businesses to discuss the specific strengths and opportunities and heard at first hand how the partnership between Invest NI and the local community is delivering real economic benefits.
Commenting on the visit, Invest NI Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton, said: “As part of our wider organisational restructuring we have recently brought together all of our overseas sales and trade development activities into a single team and this is the first opportunity we have had to bring them to Northern Ireland at the one time.
“We have been working closely with stakeholders and businesses in West Belfast and this was an ideal opportunity for our overseas teams to learn more about the strengths and attributes of the area and how our range of assistance is supporting local economic development. Last year, one of our most significant investments was the 166 job expansion by Andor Technology, but there are many more companies and social enterprises that we are working with, many of which have come to us as a result of our Boosting Business campaign.
“Through our Jobs Fund, over the past year, 77 jobs have been promoted in local businesses and social enterprises in West Belfast, with 44 of these already being created in the first year. Some of the businesses benefitting from this fund include the Spectrum Centre, Footprint, Shankill Women’s Centre and Falls Council.
“Since introducing specific grant support to residents of Neighbourhood Renewal Areas and young people not in education, employment or training, over 80 offers have been made to individuals in West Belfast, with 35 jobs already created.
“These give us a good foundation on which to further build our contribution to local economic development.
“At a wider level, we have also, on a temporary basis, licensed some of our land at Springbank, not currently used for economic development purposes, to the Colinglen neighbourhood Partnership to use as allotments. Currently there are 10 allotments, however plans are underway that could see this number rise to 55.
“Along with their visit to West Belfast, our overseas team also visited Newry for a similar set of engagements, whilst, last year they visited the North West. Visits such as these give our team a greater understanding of the specific strengths and opportunities which exist throughout Northern Ireland and enable them to better sell our region on the international stage.”