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Go raibh maith agat as an cheist sin.
Following the global financial crisis, which took hold in September 2008, Invest NI has seen growing uncertainty in the market. Companies increasingly focus on cost containment, indicating that they are deferring investment decisions and reviewing business strategies. As a result, the pipeline of new foreign direct investment prospects is not as strong as it was in 2008. Recently, however, there have been indications of an upturn in interest. Invest NI has seen an increase in inward business activity.
There have also been several significant investment announcements recently. Just a few weeks ago, the First Minister and I were particularly pleased to welcome the top management team of the New York Stock Exchange to Belfast to announce one of the biggest US investments in Europe this year, with a planned opening of a new state-of-the-art development facility in Belfast next year. That will result in the creation of up to 400 new technical, operational and corporate jobs, including 75 positions from a prior agreement.
No one should doubt the scale and significance of that announcement, which is a major endorsement of local talent, knowledge and infrastructure. When such a high-profile institution decides to invest here, it sends out a clear message to other potential investors. Over the past two years, I, along with the First Minister and his predecessor, Ian Paisley, have had ongoing engagement with staff at the highest level in the stock exchange, which, to our delight, led to that announcement.
In March 2009, the First Minister and I went to Los Angeles to meet representatives of Universal Pictures and HBO. Universal Pictures has since completed a film at the Paint Hall in Belfast, and HBO has now moved in. That has created hundreds of new jobs for people in the joinery trade and the creative arts.
Members will also be aware that the US Administration appointed Declan Kelly as economic envoy in September 2009. Mr Kelly has been relentless in his task. We are delighted that our close relationship with the US Administration resulted in that high-profile and productive appointment.