Investment and trade activities will be combined at Invest Northern Ireland’s new office in New York’s Wall Street financial district.
The office was officially opened by Invest NI chief executive Leslie Morrison at a briefing last night for directors and senior managers from around 12 Northern Ireland companies taking part in a trade mission to New York and Boston from 19-24 June.
Most of the companies on the mission, which is being led by Bill McGinnis, an Invest NI board member and chairman of the Air Route Development company (ARD), travelled to New York on the recently introduced Continental direct air service from Belfast International to Newark, a route assisted by ARD. Mr McGinnis is also a board member of UK Trade and Investment.
Said Mr Morrison: “The decision to merge investment and trade activities at this office is a further demonstration of our strategic focus on ‘being international’.
“We are seeking to achieve this by attracting further inward investment in key sectors such as financial and network services and by encouraging many more Northern Ireland companies to export their products and services to global markets.
“All 12 offices in our overseas network now offer facilities for Northern Ireland companies wishing to develop business in the markets in which they are located,” he added.
As well as spearheading the drive to encourage US companies in financial services to set up operations in Northern Ireland, the New York office, which is located at the Wall Street Plaza building on Pine Street, offers local companies ‘hot desk’ facilities.
The companies have access to workstations with internet access and meeting rooms.
Similar services are now provided at other Invest NI offices located at Atlanta; Boston (also the location of an Invest NI Northern Ireland Technology and Development Centre); San Jose; Washington DC; Brussels; Dusseldorf; Tokyo; Taipei, Seoul; London and Dublin. Companies, moreover, can access more extensive facilities and support services at the other Invest NI Technology and Development Centres in Denver and Dubai.
At an earlier reception to mark the opening of the office, Mr Morrison briefed around 200 US business people, mostly from the financial services sector in New York, about business opportunities in Northern Ireland.
In his message to US business people, Mr Morrison said Northern Ireland is being transformed by the growth of technology-led businesses, including inward investors in financial services such as Citigroup, Liberty Mutual, Northbrook Technology, HBoS, HML and Caterpillar Financial Services.
Northern Ireland, he added, has been able to demonstrate “a unique combination of talent, security and cost”.
Benefits included access to talented people; a strong regulatory environment; connectivity and infrastructure; and an attractive cost base.
“There is however more to the Northern Ireland story, something else which makes the region so attractive to American companies. It’s something which can’t be bought or taught. I doubt if you could even put a monetary value on it. I’m talking about cultural affinity – a quality which enables investors to hit the ground running when they set up in Northern Ireland,” Mr Morrison added.