Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Maeve McLaughlin speaking prior to a debate on a motion on Invest NI in the assembly today was critical of the apparent concentration of its record of job creation and investment in the North West.
Directing the main thrust of her criticism to the lack of investment in the North West Maeve McLaughlin said:
“The lack of investment in the North West and failure by Invest NI (INI) to highlight the unique selling points of the Region is just not acceptable.
“The key message that we need delivered to INI is that it needs to have a strategy that tackles regional disparities. I have regularly identified a number of projects that should inform INI’s strategy of marketing the North West region.
“Among these unique selling points are the Creative industries and technology , Connected Health -utilising projects such as : C-Tric, Project Kelvin and Research facilities at Magee University Campus to create Centres of Excellence.
“They should also be highlighting the quality of life, the age profile of the available workforce and the fact that it is the Gateway to the North West Region etc.
“INI needs to exploit all of these selling features in a properly constructed marketing strategy.The inadequacies in its present Investment strategy are glaring and need to be re-examined. How does it explain the fact that 60% of investment support offered from 2011-2012 was concentrated on eight constituencies in the north. These eight constituencies were all located East of the Bann and in and around the Belfast Metropolitan Area.
“The remaining 40% was spread across the rest of the north, including Derry which received only 5% of total investment. Given that over 30% of Invest NI funding was directed towards only two constituencies and that 60% was concentrated in and around Belfast, it is clear that Invest NI investment support is concentrated on specific constituency areas. Whether deliberate or not this disparity in allocation is unacceptable and needs to be redressed as a matter of urgency.”
INI Motion: October 2013
Proposed:That this Assembly expresses concern at InvestNI's continuing failure to provide accurate figures for jobs created as a result of government intervention; notes the absence of any Investing-facilitated visits to some constituencies in recent years, by potential foreign direct investors; welcomes the Programme for Government 2011/15 commitment to address regional imbalance; and calls on the Executive to publish an action plan outlining how it intends to meet these commitments.