Jobs: West of the Bann

Oral Answers to Questions — Enterprise, Trade and Investment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Ian Milne Ian Milne Sinn Féin 3:00 pm, 9th February 2016

5. Mr Milne asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to outline the action he has taken regarding a targeted job investment programme west of the Bann. (AQO 9599/11-16)

Photo of Jonathan Bell Jonathan Bell DUP

Invest Northern Ireland's role is to support companies that bring forward investment projects on the basis of merit, irrespective of where they are based. Through local government reform and the process of community planning, councils can shape job investment in their region by tailoring a subregional proposition to drive investment into, and set relevant targets for, their respective areas. Invest Northern Ireland will assist in the development of those council-led subregional strategies to help to drive economic development on an equitable basis throughout Northern Ireland.

Photo of Ian Milne Ian Milne Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Mo bhuíochas leis an Aire as na freagraí a thug sé go dtí seo. I thank the Minister for his answer. Will he detail his Department's success or otherwise in securing investment in Mid Ulster, which I represent, and, in particular, the south Derry end?

Photo of Jonathan Bell Jonathan Bell DUP

From 2011-15, Invest Northern Ireland support totalled £118 million. That contributed to planned investment of £673 million in areas west of the River Bann and helped businesses to promote 9,679 jobs. During the same period, businesses in that area created some 7,416 jobs. Those figures include assistance and investment totalling £15 million and £20 million that was offered to external delivery organisations and universities, which promoted six jobs. The number of jobs promoted and created is directly proportional to the adult population of each area. Twenty-seven per cent of the adult population resides in the west, and that is directly comparable to the 26% of jobs promoted and 27% of jobs created by businesses with Invest Northern Ireland support.

Photo of Gerard Diver Gerard Diver Social Democratic and Labour Party

Minister, your description today of prosperity and jobs coming forward is, I think, as someone from the constituency of Foyle, almost like Harold Macmillan saying that we have "never had it so good." The Executive's north-west ministerial group met only twice in the last year. Is that appropriate action given the level of disadvantage that we face? Should we be looking at a bespoke measure like a city deal for Derry?

Photo of Jonathan Bell Jonathan Bell DUP

I can understand the Member needing a sound bite, but he should not talk down the area that he represents. He will know, if he has been following this for the last 12 months, what I have done publicly in that area specifically. I have also been in the area privately on a number of occasions, and I want to see fruit grow from that. He will know from the announcements about OneSource Virtual, ModSquad and Nu Print Technologies that we have created, with Invest support, hundreds of new jobs in his area.

If he does not know that, he should.

When I addressed the Chamber of Commerce and spoke to the skills sector and people involved with the universities, I sensed that there is an upbeat, can-do nature. I want to facilitate that, from small businesses such as Oakgrove, which is creating a quality, premium product for export, right through to those big job announcements such as that from ModSquad, which has created hundreds of jobs in the area. We will build on that. Come with me and I will support you 100% in trying to bring business into the area and telling people that they have 84% of the business costs of the rest of the UK, they have very well educated people, and, on 1 April 2018, they will have the most competitive rate of corporation tax. That should be a winning message.

Photo of John Dallat John Dallat Social Democratic and Labour Party

That ends the period for listed questions.